After watching multiple loved ones die, a Vancouver-based safe supply advocacy group says policymakers need to act now to save lives.
The "regime of prohibition" is to blame, not the drugs themselves, explains Eris Nyx, Drug User Liberation Front (DULF) co-founder.
In July, the group handed out heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine outside the Vancouver Police Department to raise awareness about the issue. While the event sparked a discussion, they feel that little has changed.
"Nothing has changed," says Nyx. "What we can currently provide the market is a [drop] in the ocean."
DULF states that the July event demonstrated the "life-saving potential of a community-led response to the crisis of prohibition in Canada" as a necessary alternative to Vancouver's proposed model of decriminalization, explains a news release. The drugs that were handed out were tested via "FTIR spectrometry and immunoassay, and are free of fentanyl, fentanyl analogues, benzodiazepines, and other harmful adulterants."
Jeremy Kalicum, DULF organizer, told Vancouver Is Awesome in a previous interview that “the crisis is unbearable and it is ridiculous that we have to put ourselves at risk to move forward with a commonsense harm reduction principle.”
The group spent roughly $3,000 on drugs and distributed it among four groups. "We gave out more than the proposed threshold limit that's in Vancouver's proposed model.
"We gave three-and-a-half grams of each drug."
Kalicum said the funds for the drugs were raised on DULF's online fundraising platform and distributed to Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU), Tenant Overdose Response Organizers, Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society and Coalition of Peers Dismantling the Drug War. "Each group got ten-and-half grams of drugs total."
International Overdose Awareness Day
"Death is not our destiny."
DULF will host another event for International Overdose Awareness Day on Aug. 31 along with other advocacy groups and allies.
At the time of this writing, the VANDU has raised nearly $13,000 from an original fundraising goal of $10,000; the new goal has been raised to $15,000.
"We recognize this a day to honour those we lost to the War on Drugs," writes the group on its GoFundMe page. "A senseless war fuelled by colonial dispossession, racist violence, capitalist exploitation and police criminalization that has taken far too many lives.
"We grieve thousands."
B.C. marks five years of overdose health emergency
April 14 marked a sobering anniversary in B.C. – five years since the overdose health emergency was proclaimed in the province.
In the past 25 years, more than 12,632 British Columbians have died of illicit drug overdoses. That’s equal to the population of the city of Terrace.
Since the 2016 emergency declaration, some 7,000 have died.
By January, an average of 5.3 people were dying daily.
With files from Jeremy Hainsworth.