#260 Travis’s travail wins Ryga

Ryga Award announcement, 2018

This year’s Ryga Award winner for Social Awareness goes to Georgia Straight journalist Travis Lupick for Fighting for Space: How a Group of Drug Users Transformed One City’s Struggle with Addiction.

First published March 6, 2018

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“I hope that Fighting for Space receiving this award encourages discussion of Canada’s overdose epidemic,” Lupick says.

“I worry that public attention is beginning to wane, or that a feeling of hopelessness is leading people to block the crisis from their minds. But the number of death remains higher than ever.

“In 1998, the worst year of the overdose crisis that’s recounted in Fighting for Space, there were 400 drug-overdose deaths across B.C. It was a number so high that in response, Vancouver revolutionized how it responds to addiction. In 2017, there were 1,436 fatal overdoses across B.C. Something needs to change, and radically so.

“We need new ideas. We need to begin talking about legalizing and regulating illicit narcotics. I don’t know if any measure less will bring the numbers back under control.”

Ryga Award runners-up are Gary Geddes for Medicine Unbundled: A Journey through the Minefields of Indigenous Health Care (Heritage House, 2017).

and

David Suzuki and Ian Hanington for Just Cool It! The Climate Crisis and What We Can Do (Greystone, 2017).

Last year’s recipient for the George Ryga Award for Social Awareness was Wade Davis for Wade Davis, Photographs.

The Ryga Award is coordinated by B.C. BookWorld. Each year, the $2500 prize is given to an author who has demonstrated an “outstanding degree of social awareness”. Past recipients include Wade Davis, Maggie de Vries, Bev Sellars, Joel Bakan, Andrew MacLeod, Bob Hunter, and Richard Wagamese. Award coordinator Alan Twigg described the story in Fighting for Space as one in which the city can take pride.

“As a native Vancouverite, I see my city as an overly boastful and self-satisfied bubble of unreality that is going downhill fast,” he said. “But there is one thing we have given to the world that can truly be described as ‘world class’ and that’s our courageous and hard-won drug addiction treatment program.

“At the outset of his journalism career, [Lupick] has done an exemplary job documenting how a small group of activists put their hearts and minds into inventing a harm reduction program for the city that is saving lives on a daily basis.”

This year’s Ryga Award presentation ceremony will be held at the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library on Thursday, June 28th. It’s a free event. The public is welcome.

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The Ormsby Review is a journal service for in-depth coverage of BC books and authors. The Advisory Board consists of Jean Barman, Wade Davis, Robin Fisher, Cole Harris, Hugh Johnston, Kathy Mezei, Patricia Roy, Maria Tippett, and Graeme Wynn. Scholarly Patron: SFU Graduate Liberal Studies. Honorary Patron: Yosef Wosk. Provincial Government Patron since September 2018: Creative BC

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