Safe Injection Sites for Some, A Safer and Healthier Community For All.

Safe injection sites (SIS) have been a hot button topic in the political arena for the last decade or so and Vancouver has recently  (September, 2011) won a decisive victory against the Harper governments ultra conservative mandate against the existence of SIS’s in Canada.

If you don’t know what Insite is or what a safe injection site entails you can find some good info here: http://supervisedinjection.vch.ca/

Last night I was fortunate enough to have to opportunity to attend a pubic forum hosted by Universities Without Walls entitled, “Why Insite Won, A forum on the Community Struggle For Vancouver’s Safe Injection Site”, which presented a first hand view of the fight to maintain legal operation of the clinic in the face of political and community adversity.

Why did Insite need to happen?  The Downtown East Side (DTES) of Vancouver is one of if not the poorest postal code in Canada and a resident addicted population exceeding 5000 people.  The appearance and atmosphere is hard to explain if you haven’t been to Vancouver and the only valid reference point that I have might be the Tenderloin in San Francisco, but it is safe to describe the area as otherworldly.  This is where the sex work, and trafficking happen, and this is where people live (and often die) the very ugly and violent existence that society has created for the downtrodden and addicted members of the population.   With a safe injection site you see fewer people fatally overdosing, less self infection of deadly and communicable disease, less spreading of disease as a result of education, and less paraphernalia on the streets. You also see fewer people being assaulted by police officers, pimps, johns and other addicts in the pursuit of maintaining an addicted life. and with a decreased police presence we see a less acute perpetuation of  a sickening war on drugs that sucks the public coffers and only serves to exacerbate the hazards of intravenous drug use.  There is also the human factor to be considered. The dignity and humanity afforded to clients via the services offered at Insite doesn’t exist in a bloody bathroom, a back alley or a police car, and is certainly not afforded by the community at large.

Does Victoria (my island paradise/prison) need a safe injection site?  The answer is an obvious yes  if you have spent anytime downtown and have enough social awareness to see what is plain in front of your face. Does your town need to take a look at safe injection?  Probably. We need to take all of this experience and run with it.  As Liz Evans pointed out, they did all the fighting, dying, and professional sacrifice needed to bring Insite to light, we just need to hurry up and make it happen as fast as we possibly can.

Some of you might feel that a safe injection site is not relevant in your own neighborhoods, cities or towns, but the model for Insite was created around the needs of the individual and behind the vilified preconceptions we are fed regarding what constitutes a drug addict exists a human being.  You all know one, you all love one.

It’s not that easy to find a decent vid of the DTES without pan pipes or John Lennon so here we are with what I deem to be the least offensive.  Nothing against Lennon but man this song is soooo overdone.  Not necessarily promoting the agenda of the film makers either (though they seem alright), just wanted to show you some images.

The guest panel included Liz Evans, Dean Wilson, Kenneth Tupper, and Scott Bernstein.

-Animal Static

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