InSite, North America’s first legal supervised injection site, has survived its first decade with more than 2 million visits and 0 deaths.
“This is a testament to the strength and resiliency of the people who have endured the battle to open the site and keep it open and to the Downtown Eastside community that, against all odds has managed to protect the lives of people engaged in active drug use, sending the message that their lives count,” said Liz Evans of Portland Hotel Society (PHS) Community Services.
The first supervised injection took place at InSite on September 21, 2003. That launched a health care innovation that has prevented drug overdose deaths, limited the spread of disease and moved more people into detox and addiction treatment.
Lack of government support
Despite its proven success, which is documented in more than 40 reports and research papers in the world’s most respected medical and scientific journals, InSite faced a constant barrage of attacks from Stephen Harper’s government. Attempts to close InSite eventually went before the courts.
Bill C-65, An Act to amend the Substances Act, was introduced in Ottawa before parliament ended in June. It’s ultimately designed to stop and close down safe injection sites in Canada.
“The BC Supreme Court, BC Court of Appeal and finally the Canadian Supreme Court all determined that the right of a drug user to receive primary care at InSite must be protected,” said plaintiff Dean Wilson. “That combined with overwhelming public support, countless demonstrations, public forums, media events and vigils in Vancouver, Ottawa and across the country, has kept InSite open.”
“We won the first day InSite opened,” said Wilson. “Now, after ten years of saving lives, we have to look to the future, look across the country and think about all of the Canadians who suffer from the consequences of addiction.”
To learn more about InSite, visit www.supervisedinjection.vch.ca.
Image: The Blackbird