Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Underbelly News
Downtown Eastside

Hi All!

Many folks visiting my blog have been asking about personal information on my work so I thought I would post this backgrounder in order to provide a snapshot of my community involvement. Enjoy


Jamie Lee Hamilton has her roots in four decades of social activism and
experience as a First Nations citizen.

Ms Hamilton has been a lifelong resident of the
Downtown Eastside/Strathcona neighborhoods, attending Strathcona Elementary and
Britannia High.

Jamie Lee was awakened to the plight of her community by her
parents who were activists in the Downtown Eastside/Strathcona
neighborhood. Her mother Alice was a founding member of the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre, a cannery worker and involved in the Fisherman's Union. Her
father was a union organizer with the Foundry Workers Union.

In the late 60's her parents co-founded the Unemployed
Citizens Welfare Improvement Council along with former MP Margaret
Mitchell. She also helped organize Raymur project tenants to attend a political
demonstration in Victoria as a youth.

I was one of the first tenants to move into the newly
built DERA Housing Co-Op in 1985. I served on various co-op committees
there until 1987. I worked from 1988 until 1994 in group homes for the
mentally challenged. In 1989 I organized workers at the Richmond Society of
Community Living to join CUPE. I briefly served as the Union Local President.
To this day, the union remains to represent workers.

Ms Hamilton volunteered with the Downtown Eastside
Residents Association from 1984 to 1990, becoming a paid staff person from
90-92, and was heavily involved with DERA in 1986 organizing demonstrations
at inner city Hotels who were evicting long term tenants in favour of Expo
tourists. From 2002-2004, Ms. Hamilton filled the post of Board Secretary at DERA.

In 1991, Ms Hamilton joined Rev Barry Morris of First United Church on
coffee walk-abouts and Friday evenings serving hot chocolate and hot apple
cider to the working girls in the Downtown Eastside. In 1993, she
started up the At Risk Hot Meal/Food Bank Program at First United
for Transgender Sex Workers. Later on that year Jamie Lee helped to
start a collective boutique (Rainbow's End) at 573 East Hastings which operated as a low cost clothing store and food bank/drop-in for sex workers
and others living in the Downtown Eastside. This operated until 1997.

In 1993, and for three years, Ms Hamilton assisted
with the formation of the Four Corners Bank, a financial institution set up to
assist people in the Downtown Eastside.

In 1996, concerned over the increasing violence toward Downtown Eastside Sex
Workers, Ms Hamilton organized a meeting of concerned people and
created the 9 to 5 Working Society which operated Grandma's House, a safe place for
Sex Workers. With the support of NPA City Councillor Lynne Kennedy Grandma's
House became a registered charity and non-profit society. Ms. Hamilton
served as the Program Coordinator for Grandma's House from 1996-2000.

1997, awarded Community Hero by XtraWest for social
justice work.

Ms. Hamilton is a skilled communicator and social analyst, presenting
workshops for groups such as Leadership Vancouver, West Coast LEAF,
City of Vancouver Family Court and Youth Justice Committee.

Her political web blog has been
cited by many publications, including Malcolm Parry's Town Talk
column, the Georgia Straight, Calgary Herald, Vancouver Courier, Terminal
City, Westender, XtraWest, the Tyee, the commentary and Globe and Mail.

In 2004, Jamie Lee participated in an intensive week
long program through Headlines Theatre called Practicing Democracy and was
instrumental in encouraging Headlines to officially lobby for a Sex
Worker advocate position to be created with the City of Vancouver. This issue
will be coming before council in the fall of 2005.

Currently Ms Hamilton serves as a steering member for the Downtown
Eastside Arts in Parks group. This project has been funded by
the Board of Parks and Recreation.