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Union Gospel Mission offers guided tours of DTES

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Homelessness Action Week kicks off this week with a unique perspective of Canada’s poorest postal codes.

People are being encouraged to take a guided walking tour of the Downtown Eastside; someone from the inner-city community will take groups on a two-hour tour of Vancouver’s most vulnerable area in the Eastside Stride.

Keela Keeping with the Union Gospel Mission, which is behind the idea, says it’s about putting the area into context for people. “In order for a solution to start to happen, people need to understand the community that they’re working with.”

“A lot of people drive by the Hastings corridor, and that’s all they see; they see people in trouble, they see people cross the street at the wrong time… and don’t really understand what a rich and wonderful community this is and how much history [it has],” she tells us.

Keeping believes the tours help bring dignity and opportunity to the community.

“It’s a wonderful place to be, and of course, it has some issues,” she admits. “The whole point of the tour is not to romanticize the area and talk about it like it’s perfect, but also not to condemn it and just have people think that it’s hopeless and it’s a terrible place, because it’s not.”

The tours are free of charge; they operate from Monday to Sunday this coming week.