Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Nov 26 Rally

Yesterday's leaflet:
On the front (in both French and English) :
"$ 2 million tax dollars already spent evaluating Vancouver's Supervised Injection Site. Why spend more public money trying to prove the Earth is flat? Keep Insite saving lives."
On the back (in both French and English):

"Canadian taxpayers have paid more than $2 Million for an extensive scientific evaluation of Vancouver's Supervised Injection Site.
25 research papers published in medical journals have concluded that Insite:
*prevents drug overdose deaths
*reduces the spread of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C
*increases access to detox and addiction treatment
More than 1, 000, 000 injections have taken place under the supervision of Insite nurses-- that's 1, 000, 000 injections that did not take place in streets or alleys.Why spend more trying to prove the Earth is flat?
Tell Stephen Harper to do the right thing--stop wasting tax dollars on more academic studies and base decisions on accepted scientific fact, not ideology.The evidence is in. The world is round and Insite saves lives.www.communityinsite.ca"

The eye-catcher was a big (like 8 feet in diametre) flat earth complete with dinosaurs, dragons and mermaidens. This was made by a local artist who donated his time. The volcano had dry ice that smoldered all afternoon. We also set up the easels and posters that we had to forgo from the other day (due to snow). Still a bit windy, but attention getters just the same.


One of our main problems on the day was the proximity of us to daily-protester, "Anti-everything guy" (abortion, same-sex marriage, anything he deems ungodly) with a flat earth was a pretty quick leap for most people who assumed we were together.

MP of the day was Paul Dewar (NDP, Ottawa Centre). Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture, and he didn't get a chance to talk to Nathan from InSite for Community Safety as Nathan was being monopolized (strategically?) by some anti-harm reduction guys.


Despite the lack of people (5-6 at any given time), we still drew attention and were able to talk to alot of people. My strategy (to create a buffer between us and anti-everything guy) was to let people get their bearings and then as they headed down the walk let them take in the leaflet and posters then tell them why we were there and did they have any questions.
Most disheartening response of the day (and this from a government employee):
Her: We shouldn't have people like that in our society.
Me: What do you propose we do?
Her: I don't care.
Me: Well, that's a pretty unsophisticated response.
Her: (indignant, so she cared that I called her response unsophisticated...): We shouldn't have people like that in our society...
At this point her companion broke in and pointed out that one of our French words was spelt in correctly and we were at the stairs.


My most heartening responses of the day (and these out numbered the negative for me, although one volunteer gave up in frustration):
"You're preaching to the converted!" and "We're from SanFrancisco, I hope we open one there!"

I hope you do too.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Evidence shows the Earth's not flat! Evidence shows harm reduction works!

Rally on the Hill to Support InSite, Vancouver's safe injection site

Insite for Community Safety (http://www.communityinsite.ca/)
Monday, November 26, 2007
12:00am - 4:00pm
Parliament Hill, eternal flame fountain
Wellington Street, Ottawa, ON

Rally and information distribution, physical presence on the Hill to show MPs that Canadians support InSite and harm reduction initiatives.


A large sculpture of a flat earth on the main walk of Parliament Hill.

*Let MPs know that evidence shows the Earth's not flat.

**25 peer reviewed journal articles and 2million dollars invested in research show that InSite's harm reduction initiatives work.

Your job: Hand out 2 million dollar bills with Stephen Harper's face on 'em (the amount of research dollars that have been invested in InSite to date) & invite others. That's it.

When: Monday November 26, 2007 8.00 am onwards
**trying to have a mass of people before question period beginning at 2.15 pm**

Nathan Allen, resident of the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, and the Campaign Coordinator of 'InSite for Community Safety' (www.communityinsite.ca) is in Ottawa this week to raise awareness for Insite, Vancouver's safe injection site. InSite for Community Safety is a broad-based community coalition of individuals and groups from across the political spectrum, working to ensure InSite continues to save lives.

Rally Pics from Nov 19th

InSite for Community Safety campaign co-ordinator, Nathan Allen is in town this week and has been organizing rallies on Parliament Hill. The first one was held in the morning of Tues, Nov 19th.

About 30 volunteers showed up over the course of the morning and assembled giant photos of current users of the InSite facility at various stages over their lives. Volunteers handed out leaflets of the same photos to MPs and civil servants as they headed to centre block for caucus meetings. Beneath the photos on the leaflets were the taglines: "Insite Saves Them. Insite Saves Lives" and "Before they were 'junkies, they were kids"

Also in attendance were Burnaby Douglas MP Bill Siksay and Vancouver East MP Libby Davies (pictured left with Nathan Allen).

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Big Events this week

Action on Parliament Hill for
InSite, Vancouver's Safe Injection Site
Come and tell the MP's that InSite saves lives.
That addicts don't live "short, miserable lives" (Stephen Harper, Oct 2007)

Where: Parliament Hill

What: Vigil and information distribution, physical presence on the Hill to show MPs that Canadians support InSite and harm reduction initiatives.

Imagine: 20 big banners of faces, faces of InSite clients in various stages of their lives.

Your job: Hand out pamphlets &/or invite others. That's it.

When: Wednesday November 21, 2007 8.00 am onwards **trying to have a mass of people between 8:30am and 10:00am**

Nathan Allen, resident of the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, and the Campaign Coordinator of 'InSite for Community Safety' (www.communityinsite.ca) is in Ottawa this week to raise awareness for Insite, Vancouver's safe injection site. InSite for Community Safety is a broad-based community coalition of individuals and groups from across the political spectrum, working to ensure InSite continues to save lives.


The Alliance to End Homelessness
2007 Community Forum on Homelessness


Location: University of Ottawa, Tabaret Hall Chapel, 75 Laurier, 1st Floor
Time: 9:00 am–3:30 pm ~ Registration Free ~ Lunch Provided

The Research Alliance for Canadian Homelessness, Housing, and Health (REACH 3), a collaborative interdisciplinary network of academic investigators and community partners in Ottawa, Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal.
Housing Solutions


Liz Evans, BScN, Portland Hotel Society, Vancouver
– on innovative housing programs that have been created in Vancouver.

Stephen Hwang, MD, MPH, St.-Michaels Hospital, Toronto
– on policy and program implications of some of their research

Lorraine Bentley, MA, Executive Director, Options Bytown, Ottawa
– reacting with implications for the housing situation in Ottawa.

Resident, Options Bytown, Ottawa
– providing a personal perspective on their housing difficulties in Ottawa

Youth Can Move Forward


Elise Roy, MD, MSc, Université de Sherbrooke
– Montreal Street Youth

Bruce MacLaurin, MSW, PhD (Cand.), University of Calgary
– Calgary Street Youth

Catherine Worthington, MSc, PhD, University of Calgary
– Calgary Street Youth

Andrea Poncia, Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa
– HIV/AIDS Educator

An Ottawa youth community member
– commenting on the findings and their own experience

INFORMAL LUNCH & NETWORKING CAUCUSES — A 1½ hour opportunity to share ideas from Ottawa and ask more questions of REACH3 members.

Select your lunch then join one of the LUNCH CAUCUSES, focusing on a variety of topics, facilitated by Ottawa’s Alliance to End Homelessness members.

The good, bad and ugly – the InSite Experience
The "how" behind linking community agencies and researchers


A session describing how the community and the academic's worked together on InSite, Vancouver’s legal supervised injection site.

Hear about the good, bad and ugly parts of the experience when the private, public and not-for-profit sectors, come together locally, nationally and internationally.

Taking the need for a National Housing Program out to the community!

A Sound & Photo Installation
Street Health Stories
How do you take care of your health when you don’t have a home?
8 Street Health Stories in large lightbox prints with headphones
The National Film Board of Canada’s Filmmaker-in-Residence presents the Street Health Stories installation which gives a human face and voice to Street Health’s statistics.
Four photographers who have experienced homelessness ~ Adrienne, Jess, Keneisha, and Meghan document the stories of 28 homeless men and women through audio recordings and portrait-photography. Katerina Cizek, a documentary-maker and the National Film Board of Canada’s Filmmaker-in-Residence at an inner-city hospital, teaming up with partners at the frontlines – doctors, nurses and patients – to create collaborative media.

Friday, November 02, 2007

CNN article that is skinny on the sensationalism...

...apart from the "watch people shoot up" link that I've left in tact (the tag is sensational, not the link itself which I encourage you to watch).

Big kudos to Lorraine Trepanier for appearing in this news peice.

I've also emphasized an import bit of demographic info that is often missed in news reports about Insite--that not all of the people using the facility are homeless and far from the Prime Minister Harper's assertion that they are living "short, miserable lives". Even this report blurs the mixed demographics by opening with the stereotyped description of tattered clothes, missing teeth, etc. and then burying the observation of older and wealthier people using the facility waaaay down in the story.

Health clinic helps addicts shoot up

By Adam ReissCNN

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (CNN) -- I didn't know quite what to expect when I entered the injection room at Insite, the world's busiest supervised drug clinic.

Similar clinics can be found at 65 locations in eight different countries.

Inside the Vancouver facility, I found more than a dozen people taking illegal drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, under the watchful eye of trained nurses. These drug users were among the more than 700 people who visit the facility every day, bringing their drugs with them.
Insite's goal is to reduce the risk of overdose and limit the spread of diseases like HIV by giving addicts clean needles and a safe place to use them.

"People need to be kept alive long enough in order to get treatment," said Liz Evans, a nurse and founder of Insite.

The clinic, which is sanctioned by Vancouver's health department, opens each day at 10 a.m. and stays open until 4 a.m. the following day. Many of the people in the clinic on the day we visited had tattered clothes, missing teeth and glassy eyes. They swayed as they struggled to keep their balance. Watch people shoot up in the Vancouver clinic »

Outside of the clinic, police patrolled the streets to keep people from buying and selling illegal drugs. Inside, patrons were given access to Insite's clean needles, injection booths and nurses. Similar facilities can be found at 65 locations in eight different countries.

San Francisco health officials recently held a day-long conference on the Vancouver drug clinic, with an eye toward possibly opening a similar one. But San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said the city is unlikely to do so.

"You had a lot of health officials there that did participate in the pros and cons. But my director of the department of public health doesn't feel the city should move forward," Newsom said.
Defenders of the Vancouver clinic say more than two dozen peer-reviewed studies have shown its benefits. One study found a 45 percent reduction in public drug use as a result of the clinic; another showed 33 percent of addicts are more likely to go to detox after using Insite.
Dr. Thomas Kerr, a University of British Columbia research scientist who has studied the program, believes Insite benefits the wider community.

"In the absence of such a facility, not only would [drug users] be high out on the street, but they would be leaving their syringes in school yards, in parks and on city streets," Kerr said.

Dr. David Murray, chief scientist for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, opposes opening drug injection clinics in the United States. He believes they do little to help addicts overcome their additions.

"It is a cruel illusion because they are still addicted, trapped, trying to get out and dying by the virtue of the drug itself," he said.

Nurses at the Vancouver clinic say they get all kinds of people using their facility, from an old grandma who comes to inject her pain medication to men in business suits hiding their addictions from their families. [emphasis added]

At the clinic, we met Lorraine Trepanier, 50, a longtime drug user. Trepanier said she used to sell her body for drugs, but now relies on a friend to give her the $20 she uses every day to buy cocaine and heroin.

"I get up in the morning and I make sure I have one down or half a down," she said, referring to her heroin fix. Trepanier believes Insite has helped keep her alive by giving her a supervised setting in which she can take drugs.

Evans and other operators of Insite say that rather than chase addicts from corner to corner and alley to alley, it is more effective to encourage them to use their drugs in a supervised setting.

In the more than four years Insite has been open, there have been roughly 800 overdoses at the facility, but there have not been any deaths. When someone does overdose, nurses try to revive them. If the drug user is in critical condition, they are sent to a hospital.

Trepanier doesn't care what critics have to say about Insite. All she wants is a chance to get her next fix in a clean facility, until the day she finally works up the willpower to kick her addition.

"I don't want to be down here all my life," she said. "I don't want to be chasing this all my life."