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In July of last year, I was in Vancouver with my grandchildren. We went to eat in Chinatown, which borders a part of the city known as the Downtown Eastside. It was a beautiful, cool afternoon. In a fairly small area, there were hundreds of people standing around talking and dozens more sleeping on the sidewalks. It looked like Vancouver just stopped – and something else began. For the next week, my grandchildren, aged 10 and 12 (who live in Thunder Bay and are no strangers to urban decay) asked questions about the people they had seen.

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