Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Staying Alive, The Fifth Estate

CBC television aired the documentary "Staying Alive" on The Fifth Estate back in March (let me know if it is not available to viewers outside Canada). It's excellent. It is apparently the first time the inside of Insite has been documented in the media (though a video has always been available on Insite's own webpage).
Here's the preamble for the documentary from the CBC website:

"It has been called "an abomination" by a minister of Stephen Harper's government. Its staff members claim it "saves lives." A regular client calls it "a community centre for junkies." Whatever you might call it, Insite is the only one of its kind in North America — a supervised injection site for drug addicts.

Insite, located in Vancouver's notorious downtown eastside, has been controversial since it first opened its doors in 2003. An exemption from federal drug laws was granted to allow addicts to bring their drugs onto the premises and inject them; Insite provides clean needles and medical supervision. It's funded by British Columbia's government and championed by community leaders, but Harper's government is openly hostile to it and is trying to shut it down.

Now, for the first time, cameras have been allowed to record the daily dramas at Insite. Inside is a world not many have seen before. In Staying Alive, reporter Hana Gartner introduces us to some of those who work there, including Darwin Fisher, the intake manager, and Dr. Gabor Mate, who has been caring for addicts, prostitutes and the homeless for the past 10 years. You'll meet three addicts doing their best to survive. There is Dave, a user for half of his 40 years who has been coming to Insite since it first opened and who speaks to the harsh realities of life on the street. And Taz, who comes to the centre to detox and, in the process, confronts her past sexual abuse as she struggles for a better life. And finally, Shelly, who, despite her addiction, wants us to know: "I'm somebody's kid. I'm somebody's sister. All I want is for people just to say ‘hi' sometimes and remember I have a heart that beats."

Insite's future is uncertain. In this CBC exclusive, for the first time, viewers can see inside Insite and make up their own minds."

1 comment:

MJB said...


This comment isn't really for your blog, but I couldn't find an e-mail address for you.

I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciated the comment you left for me on my blog. I put a lot of thought into that entry. It took me a week to write it (usually I can write up something in an hour). I'm also flattered that you read my blog at all.

Thanks for your feedback and your encouragement. You're clearly a smart cookie!