Eli Cooley-Morris was baptized in the Downtown Eastside’s landmark First United Church in 1988. He died next door at the Hazelwood Hotel nearly 32 years later, another victim of B.C.’s poisoned drug supply.
His father, Rev. Barry Morris, was the minister at the church when Eli was born. Today, Morris works at the Longhouse Council of Native Ministry in east Vancouver, where in the past year he has presided over about 20 funerals or memorials for drug users, many of them young adults.
Supporting grief-stricken families during B.C.’s overdose crisis has always been emotional for the longtime minister, whose small congregation includes many Indigenous, Métis and other residents of the church’s working-class neighbourhood. But that has intensified since the loss of his only child, Eli, on Jan. 15 last year.
“It was particularly hard when I began to do funerals where other deaths involved the nature of the same death that took my son,” said Morris, who avoids mentioning Eli so he doesn’t take attention away from the person he is memorializing. Read the rest of this article at Canada.com…
Morris’s name is peppered through the archives of [The Province] newspaper, advocating for homeless people, immigrants, welfare recipients, sex workers, and gay rights for 35 years. He’s officiated at many memorials for vulnerable residents, such as three men who died in a fire at an illegal rooming house in 2010.
Image: Screen capture from The Province