Community Journalism 101: DTES View of Education, by Isaac White


Photo by Kevin Hollett. 


We need inspiration from the Canadian education system, teachers, volunteers and students within their particular disciplines and conceptualization of education, knowledge, people, power and place.


We need explanations, rulings, encouragement, advice so that we can use this education to contribute to the DTES society we live in with employment and enjoyment that will lead to the fulfillment of a better environment and productivity that we can pass on to our local, national and global communities.


I’m proud to witness cultures of learning in the Downtown Eastside and all levels of our continuing education have a large group of progressive thinkers seeking higher education. All of the DTES Aboriginal, Canadian and Immigrant Teachers and students have a diverse culture, language, way of life and common sense to offer, from all levels of education ranging from street level, to community workshops in music, art and more.


People with all levels of IQ, with financial problems, physical concerns, mental health issues, alcohol problems, prescription and illegal drug problems, are continually teaching, seeking and have a high love of learning.


Some DTES places of learning examples include Carnegie Community Centre, Gathering Place Community Centre, Main Street Centre, Downtown East Education Centre, Hastings Education Centre, Native Education Centre and UBC, which offers a wide range of programs. DTES places of learning offer workshops in art, music and subjects that give academic credit for adult education courses. 


We want to be more than spectators in this place of learning. Not just silently witnessing, hearing of those university words, trying to clear away the words of the high brows, those scraps of linguistic influence that never reach our street language, our homes, our workshops, our environment.


You are welcome to come and see the progress, to learn from the social reality of the DTES, to witness and encourage our love of learning as we work toward a new career, enhance an existing one or just have fun.



Isaac White lives in Downtown South and has taken classes at the Gathering Place and through Humanities 101. He wrote the following piece in September 2012 for Humanities 101. What follows is an edited version of his essay.


He is a familiar face in the Downtown Eastside, and has been frequenting the neighbourhood to connect with friends and his community since the early 1980s.

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