News Local

DTES visit an eye-opener for students

By Richard Zussman, QMI Agency Vancouver

Bodwell High School student (left) Yasemin Saner and (right) Eliza Grant listen as Downtown Eastside resident Kenneth Trevail answers questions during a school trip to the neighbourhood Monday. (CARMINE MARINELLI, QMI AGENCY)

Bodwell High School student (left) Yasemin Saner and (right) Eliza Grant listen as Downtown Eastside resident Kenneth Trevail answers questions during a school trip to the neighbourhood Monday. (CARMINE MARINELLI, QMI AGENCY)

For Kenneth Trevail, the alleys of our city are to be shared with everyone.

That's why the 46-year-old homeless man was happy to show off his "back yard" to a class of North Vancouver high school students Monday.

"This alley used to be full of dealers selling crack, people were afraid to walk along it," he told the class assembled in Trounce alley downtown, the strip he calls home. "Now I stay here so that the drug dealers won't come back."

Trevail monitors the alley, off Cambie Street between Hastings and Cordova, each day.

Stephen Goobie's Grade 12 class at Bodwell High School visited as part of the social justice class he teaches.

"We are not here to judge," he said, "we are here to get a greater understanding of why things are like this."

For most of the class, the trip into the alley and the walk along East Hastings was a different look into what they thought the Downtown Eastside was all about.

"Last time I came here I thought it was scary," said student Lara Dangela, "now I see there are people here you can talk to."

Goobie added the walking tour was the first of its kind for the school. The field trip included stops at the Woodward's building and the Carnegie Centre.