The Downtown Eastside community was in mourning this weekend following the death of beloved harm reduction activist Tracey Morrison.
Morrison, often called "Tracey the Bannock Lady" for the traditional bread she baked and sold, died Friday, according to the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU). The cause of death has not been made public, but Morrison's family has been informed of the news
"When I hear the sad song of sirens that ring out in my neighbourhood every day — all day long — I am dreading the story I will hear — whether this person has made it or not," Morrison wrote.
Selling bannock, she said, helped her reach out to the marginalized and stigmatized people who live in the Downtown Eastside.
'An amazing force'
News of Morrison's death hit hard for anti-poverty activist Jean Swanson.
"She was just an amazing force. Last time I saw her was ...Thursday or Friday — she was at VANDU and she had her glasses on. She was working away on some paper, some report," Swanson said.
"Everybody loved her. She couldn't walk down one block in the Downtown Eastside without getting at least 10 hugs."
One of Morrison's recent crusades was advocating for an Indigenous healing and wellness centre for the Downtown Eastside. Swanson said she'd love to see the city make that dream a reality and name it in Morrison's honour.
"She fought tooth and nail for her community. She was in all the housing marches, all the harm reduction marches. She was a real leader," Swanson said.
Community advocate Sarah Blyth saw Morrison regularly, selling bannock at the Downtown Eastside Sunday market.
"It's going to be a huge shock to the community," Blyth said.
"It's just completely shocking to think that one by one, these faces that you see every day are going so quickly. It's nothing I could ever imagine."