20 years ago, in September 1997, community members of the Downtown Eastside rallied for government action in addressing and responding to the rapidly increasing number of deaths from opiate related overdoses and HIV in. This community, grassroots movement was led by key activists, one of whom was the late Bud Osborn.
For the demonstration, community members built and planted 1,000 crosses in openheimer park and blocked traffic on Main and Hastings. This demonstration resulted in the formation of VANDU, the first peer run safer injection site and eventually in 2008 the opening of Insite, the first legally sanctioned and operated Safe injection site in North America. It was a pivotal moment in the shift in drug policy in Vancouver. It created a ripple effect that has saved the lives of thousands.
Collective Resistance to Injustice (CRI) is organizing a commemoration to the community's initial action in 1997 by collaborating with community members/collectives and key organizers to recreate this event, highlighting the current number of individuals lost to the Opiate overdose epidemic in British Columbia (2,224 deaths over 3 years). Moreover, we are partnering with organizers in cities across Canada to encourage local demonstrations to similarly identify the impact of overdose deaths and to deliver these symbols to Parliament.
Facebook Event (local - Coast Salish Territory): https://tinyurl.com/yb9b6grv
With the recent report released that the Federal government is not willing to decriminalize illicit opiates and the ever increasing number of overdoses impacting users, frontline workers, emergency services, and draining resources- We say: enough is enough.
This action serves to pressure the government to shift their approach to drug policy, listen to community members, include them in conversations about drug policy, to address this as a national emergency, and increase accessibility to the kind of care community members have asked for across Canada.
This Gofund me campaign will do the following:
- Pay for supplies necessary to build crosses (total number 2,224) (approx. $400)
- Pay for labour in assembling the crosses (community members will be invited to assemble to crosses, connect with each other and share in food and coffee/tea) $20/hr of labour - anticipating between 32-40 hrs of labour needed $640-800
- Pay for the transport of crosses/pick up of crosses from other provinces ($3,000)
In place of donations, we are also seeking support in other ways. If you are able to volunteer time, offer supplies, or food donations please email us (see below).
Policy Change Letter:
We will also be circulating a letter that will address the policy changes that have been demanded by organizations such as CAPUD, VANDU, and additions made by CRI and other advocacy groups across Canada. The letter will be directed to the health minister (Ginette Petitpas Taylor) and prime minister Justin Trudeau in addition to BC NDP Leader (John Horgan), and the ministers assigned to oversee the response to the overdose crisis in BC (Judy Darcy and Adrian Dix). Similar letters will be and have been circulating in other provinces and territories. If you are interested in signing your name to the letter please email us at the address below.
Thank you for supporting community members, thank you for responding to Overdoses. Thank you for all you do.
*Any money raised above and beyond the amount needed will be donated to causes following consultation with drug user networks (VANDU/CAPUD)