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About Jean

Jean Swanson has been an anti-poverty and social justice activist for over 40 years in Vancouver and across the country.

Swanson is a universally respected figure, and in 2016 she was awarded the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honour, for “her long-standing devotion to social justice, notably for her work with the residents of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.”


Some of her community work includes:

Carnegie Community Action Project (2005-present). Working with residents of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside to protect low-income housing and improve living conditions. Swanson has co-authored annual reports on the SRO hotel stock and rents.

Raise the Rates BC (2007-present). Advocacy to raise welfare, disability, and pension rates in BC.

DTES Local Area Planning Process (2011-14). Swanson helped to make sure that the voices of the low-income majority were included in the DTES Local Area Planning process.

She is author of the book Poor-Bashing: The Politics of Exclusion (2001).

National Anti-Poverty Organization (1995-96), chairperson, president. Swanson took leadership in challenging Canada’s neo-liberal turn in the 1990s, including Paul Martin’s 1995 budget that devastated social services.

COPE-NDP Unity Candidate for Mayor of Vancouver (1988), runner up to NPA’s Gordon Campbell.

End Legislated Poverty (1985), co-founder, coordinator. Advocated for policies that reduced poverty and inequality in BC.

BC Solidarity Coalition (1981-83), staff organizer. Opposed the BC government’s drastic cuts to public services and workers rights.

Hospital Employees Union (1980-83), research analyst.

Downtown Eastside Residents Association (1974-80), VP & Elected Secretary. Jean worked with Libby Davies and Bruce Eriksen at the DTES Residents Association (DERA), which made historic gains in protecting, empowering, and housing low-income tenants of the Downtown Eastside and Chinatown.


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  • Anonymous
    followed this page 2018-05-08 07:20:18 -0700
  • Kathie edwards
    posted about this on Facebook 2018-05-04 11:06:37 -0700
    About your nation
  • Kathie edwards
    @Kathiee63364834 tweeted link to this page. 2018-05-04 11:06:34 -0700
  • Roney Sweg
    posted about this on Facebook 2018-03-12 04:25:22 -0700
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  • Maha Zen
    followed this page 2017-10-09 18:27:13 -0700
  • Mona Monaé
    posted about this on Facebook 2017-10-05 13:30:41 -0700
    TEAM JEAN: Low Income Housing, Rent Freeze, DTES advocacy, Raising rates of Gov. assistance for disability, welfare, pensions. SHE'S WHO WE'VE BEEN NEEDING FOR YEARS!