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Creativity & Connection

Downtown Eastside - Katarina Wind

Updated: Jun 24, 2020


is a parking spot

right out front.

I don’t need to

hurry past, head down

“those scary people”

Shadows in the alleyways

Chorea dancing down the street

Shopping carts rattle the sidewalk

Only 3 blocks from the Gastown glitz

double check that you’ve locked the

car doors.

But confined to the

small clinic chair

he’s not scary


minimal eye contact

dressed warmly but dishevelled

one-to-two word answers


I’m here to help

but what can I really do

methadone prescription

blood work

a smile

end of the first day

I walk outside

something has changed

I’m not afraid

“those scary people”

are my



Growing up in Vancouver, I was implicitly taught to fear the homeless; especially residents of the Downtown Eastside. I was taught to cross the street if someone was acting strangely, and to never walk alone in certain places. While safety is important, this subconscious teaching of "otherness" forms a large part of the systematic discrimination that marginalized populations face. It is effortless to go about our lives, particularly as a white person, ignoring and fearing certain populations. A privilege of practicing medicine is being forced to confront how societal norms have created preventable tragedies, including the opioid crisis and police brutality. The first step is seeing each other as human, and recognizing that we are all on the same team.


Author Bio: Katarina is a Family Medicine resident at Saint Paul's Hospital in Vancouver. 

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