Pubdate: Tue, 18 Jul 2017
Source: Metro (Vancouver, CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Metro Canada
Author: David P. Ball
Page: 6


Tracey Morrison remembered for her tenderness and tirelessness

A longtime advocate for drug policy reforms in Vancouver is being
mourned after her unexpected death on Friday night.

Tracey Morrison was of Anishinabe ancestry and president of the
Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society.

Also involved in the city's leading harm-reduction community
organization, the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU),
Morrison earned the nickname Tracey the Bannock Lady for her many
years selling homemade fry bread in the Downtown Eastside.

"She's been a major staple in the community, fighting for the rights
of Aboriginal people, especially Aboriginal women, in drug use," said
Laura Shaver, president of the B.C. Association of People on Methadone
and a VANDU board member. "You can't walk down the street without
someone saying something about her.

"I don't think Tracey realized how many people she affected or how
many knew her from her work."

Garth Mullins, who also works with VANDU, said he knew Morrison for
years and believed she was in her mid to late 40s and originally from

"I worked with Tracey as part of the movement trying to confront the
overdose crisis and bring some dignity and agency to the lives of
people who are really marginalized by the drug war," the radio
documentarian and 24 Hours columnist told Metro.

"Tracey would really make the links between colonialism and
gentrification and drug policies - but she had a beautiful, tender way
of working with everybody in the community.

"She'd always meet you with a hug. It was crushing when I heard
Saturday morning. It was like someone threw a cinder block at my gut.
There's been shock through the community."

In February, Morrison wrote an article about the overdose crisis for
the online publication The Volcano. Many of her colleagues shared the
story, titled Sad Siren Song, on Sunday over social media.

"When I hear the sad song of sirens that ring in my neighbourhood
every day," she wrote, "all day I am dreading to hear the story if
this person made it or not.

"This emergency crisis on overdoses and the death toll here in this
city I love so much is inconceivable, so hard to understand why can't
this problem be solved or helped? Why isn't what we are doing, working?"

Mullins said that in addition to the grief over Morrison's death - the
cause of which has yet to be determined - there's fear about the
massive toll the overdose crisis has taken on the leadership of the
harm reduction movement.

"I feel like this isn't going to stop until every one of us is gone,"
Mullins said. "To stop it, we need to fight. And Tracey was one of the
greatest fighters.

"If this was an overdose involved here, then this and all the other
thousands of people is the result of bad drug policy more than it is
of bad drugs."
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