National Meeting of Organizations of People Who Use Illicit Drugs

On October 16 and 17, 2013, a national meeting of peer-run organizations of people who use drugs was held in Victoria, BC. At the meeting, there were over 40 people from across Canada, including representatives from 14 independent peer-run organizations, peer representatives from BC Health Authorities and supporters from ally organizations. The meeting was organized by a national steering committee composed of representatives from peer-run
organizations across Canada. The national steering committee met monthly for a year preceding the conference. The two-day meeting was planned and hosted by SOLID (Society of Living Illicit Drug Users) in collaboration with the national steering committee, with support from AIDS Vancouver Island (AVI), the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, the Canadian Harm Reduction Network, Centre for Addictions Research of BC (CARBC), the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition (CDPC), and the Vancouver Island Public Interest Research Group (VIPIRG).

NationalMeetingCover

NationalMeetingCover

Read the report that came out of the meeting

Illicit Drug Users host their own college

Focus article on the Peer Convergence, a day long event run by and for people who use(d) illicit drugs in Victoria! This year’s event was a great success with over 75 people who use drugs and 15 service providers in attendance. The workshops run by graduates of the Leadership Street College addressed issues of criminalization, stigma and street survival!

Police Harass Harm Reduction Help

“Last week, an outreach worker with SOLID was stopped by Victoria Police for carrying drug paraphernalia — part of the job when you’re handing out supplies to drug users. Despite displaying a SOLID ID card and handing over a business card, the officer still checked the worker’s record for outstanding warrants. Minutes later, the same outreach worker was questioned by two officers while searching for used needles in a local park.” 2013 Monday Magazine article.

http://www.mondaymag.com/opinion/211250481.html

Local groups mark overdose awareness day

Immediate Release

August 13, 2012

LOCAL GROUPS MARK OVERDOSE AWARENESS DAY WITH CEREMONY

Victoria. Local agencies that work with people who use illicit drugs are marking International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31 with a ceremony to remember those who have died from overdose and to inform the public about the importance of decreasing the risk of future overdoses. The Victoria AIDS Resource & Community Service Society (VARCS), AIDS Vancouver Island, the Society of Living Illicit Drug Users (SOLID) and Peers Victoria Resource Society are working together to highlight the need for a community response to the prevention of overdose deaths.

“Our organizations work with people who are at risk,” explains Karen Dennis, Executive Director of VARCS. “Society tends to think of illicit drug users as disposable. We are all people; we all have family and friends who care, and there are things we can do to prevent the deaths of our loved ones and community members.”

Katie Lacroix, Peer Outreach Worker of SOLID agrees. “Our members are people who are incredibly marginalized and incredibly resilient. Drugs and alcohol are a way for them to cope with the reality of the pain in their lives. We are also a vital part of the solution and we take action everyday to reduce the risks associated with drug use, including overdose.”

Within the Vancouver Island Health Authority, fixed site needle exchange and supervised consumption services are still notably absent in Victoria; a situation that increases the risk for illness and overdose amongst people who use drugs. The BC Centre for Disease Control is developing a program to increase access to naloxone (Narcan), a safe and effective antidote to opiate overdose, but this resource is not yet available.

“Overdose impacts us all,” says Marion Little, Executive Director of Peers Victoria Resource Society. “We need to have the resources in place to make sure that people who use substances have access to information and support to reduce their risk.”

The August 31 ceremony will include several speakers, honouring those who have died from overdose, and information about to prevent and respond to overdose.

 

International Overdose Awareness Day Ceremony

Friday August 31, 10am

corner of Pandora and Quadra

media contact: Karen Dennis, Executive Director of VARCS

250-388-6220, karendennis@varcs.org

SOLID condemns policing of visible drug trade

SOLID recently sent a letter to the Times Colonist regarding their revealing of the VicPD’s undercover sting called “Rock the Block”:

“As an organization that provides outreach services to people who use illicit drugs, we are deeply disturbed by the recent article (K. Derosa, June 14, 2012) revealing the results of VicPD’s undercover sting called “Rock the Block.” In an effort to target the “open air drug trade,” two months of police resources culminated in 16 arrests this past Tuesday and Wednesday.  Ten of the 12 named in the paper had no fixed address, evidence of the targeting of the street community, those who are living in poverty and who may be “trafficking” small quantities of illicit drugs for daily survival, if they are indeed convicted. The research is clear that disrupting the street level drug trade increases violence and makes marginalized people more vulnerable. Printing the names of the individuals who are innocent, until proven guilty, further stigmatizes these individuals. The fact that the police spent Tuesday outside Our Place with their list of people to arrest, using public displays of unnecessary force to take down their victims, served to keep people away from one of the few places to get hot food in Victoria.  It is clear that the approach to removing the “open-air” or “visible” drug trade is a colossal waste of money that addresses the symptoms, as opposed to the root causes of drug use, addiction, trauma, homelessness and poverty. As a community, we all need to understand addiction as a health issue, not a criminal issue.  We need to dedicate more resources to harm reduction services, including supervised consumption services, to make Victoria a safer community for all citizens.”

-Society of Living Illicit Drug Users, a peer-run organization