Monday, December 08, 2008


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


Yesterday I attended the rally to save Little Mountain Housing. The weather was crisp but nice and a number of hardy souls came out to paint on the boarded plywood which now cover the vacated suites which were emptied to make way for a proposed new condo development.

It seems really odd that Little Mountain tenants were forced out of their homes before a final deal had been struck with the developer and further it is really obscene when we have people homeless and freezing out on the street when they could be housed in Little Mountain.

I have a personal history with Little Mountain which goes back to the days when Margaret Ellen Mitchell spearheaded the Vancouver and District Public Housing Tenants Association.

Originally Margaret and her children Susan, Paul and Jimmy lived in Raymur project where I resided with my family. Together, Margaret, my parents, former MP Margaret Anne Mitchell, Walter Gray, Jack Maley and others formed the Unemployed Citizens Welfare Improvement Council (UCWIC) who in the 60's and early 70's was a force to be reckoned with. UCWIC obtained many benefits for people on welfare and in the field of housing as the history of the V & D Public Housing Tenants Association attests to.

It seems a real shame that this housing will be destroyed especially since it is so usable and is fully functional.

If Margaret were alive there is no bloody way that the government of Gordon Campbell would be getting away with its plans to demolish this property which was originally created to assist veterans returning home from serving in the war. Later it was made into social housing to deal with increasing poverty and homelessness.

i think the art-in which occurred yesterday at Little Mountain yesterday was actually a love-in and further actions need to happen which will save Little Mountain Housing.

Margaret Ellen Mitchell passed away in 1994, a mere five months after my own late Mother, Alice. I recall Margaret attending my mom's funeral and when I was overcome with grief, Margaret who was sitting behind me placed her hand on my shoulder and gently whispered that my mother wouldn't want this. Her words were comforting. In 1994 Margaret wrote an epitaph of my mother in the Citizens United, the V and D newsletter citing my mother who was a longtime board member of Vancouver and District Public Housing being a trailblazer for the advantages many enjoy in Public Housing and Human Rights.

And if my Mother was a trail blazer imagine what Margaret Mitchell was. This woman was simply amazing!!! Often on weekends I would go up to Margaret's home at Little Mountain spending time with her kids. Often I would stay overnight because Little Mountain was located in an area not as rough as Raymur. During these formative years, I learned so much politically from Margaret as well as my own parents.

Margaret Mitchell and Alice Hamilton were deeply connected and close personal friends who had been through many battles together. From being part of the Militant Mothers of Raymur (which created a safe overpass for children to attend school) to stopping a freeway from going through Strathcona to starting up the first food cooperative at Raymur, these women warriors didn't shy away from being political or anything political. They did what needed doing in order that upcoming generations had hope for their futures.

In Margaret and Alice's memories, I think it is incumbent on the new generations of activists to do whatever is necessary to save Little Mountain. In fact new generations are and Tommy Thomson and Deborah Fong are examples of this. Please see for an excellent piece by Carlito Pablo.

I join the ranks of those already in battle to save this living piece of Vancouver history and let's rally for a continuous love-in for Little Mountain.

The ultimate goal is to have this housing re-opened and with the citizens united I know this can happen.

Jamie Lee Hamilton