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The good and bad and ……

May 22, 2009

Yesterday on my way to a meeting in Vancouver I headed down Hastings Street for a change. Hastings and Main is in the downtown eastside and is considered a ‘bad’ area of town. There the poverty is apparent with the unemployed, homeless and addiction in plain view. As I was passing Insite I Twittered and took a picture. No one responded which seemed unusual. After some thought that was probably because most don’t know about Insite.

Insite is the first legal supervised injection site. It is the only geographic area (the building’s large injection room) in Canada where it is legal to inject drugs. The reasons for this are many, the main one being that addiction is a sickness and this is a health issue with a health facility to attempt to assist people in beating their drug addiction. What it has done is save lives, lives of those who have this illness. Sure there are two sides to this story and some that would take a very different view but the fact remains, lives have been saved.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to tour the site when with the Watari organization. It was a life changing event. Hearing the stories of the individuals and seeing what was happening brought to light that we as a community need to come to grips with the drug addiction problems of the poor and homeless. There are some that say this is the addicts choice. Other will call it bad fate. Whatever the reason it doesn’t make sense to neglect the problem and do nothing and let people die. It makes me wonder when I hear about a 31 year old aquarium dolphin that dies in the arms of its 5 handlers and nothing about the individual who dies in the back alley of a downtown street, alone with no human consolation.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Sonya permalink
    May 22, 2009 2:57 pm

    I love blog posts like this that make the reader pause and think about the worls at large instead of just the part of the world we are intimately acquainted with. Thank you for the insight, I saw your tweet yesterday but had no idea what Insite was so I didn’t pursue it further.

  2. Ashley Kollewe permalink
    May 22, 2009 3:06 pm

    I have always been in favor of the injection site. I think it’s a smart and realistic aid.

    I have never felt uneasy on Hastings. My parents, and especially my husband were not (and still are not) fans of me attending local concerts at venues such as Pat’s Pub, but never have I felt threatened while walking down Hastings. I get asked for spare change, and that’s about the extent of it. I can understand why some people might feel the need to be cautious at night around the area but I’ve just never seen what it is they are scared of.

  3. May 22, 2009 6:27 pm

    Thank you for this, Gene.

  4. May 22, 2009 8:04 pm

    Well said Gene. An injection site felt like a desperate move, but they were desperate times in that part of town. Until we find a solution for a system problem like drug abuse, it simply makes no sense to let people die when we can so easily prevent it.

  5. May 24, 2009 2:31 pm

    I didn’t see your tweet, but I’m glad I caught your blog post. I didn’t know something like this existed, so it was definitely an interesting read. I’m actually really glad to see that something like this exists, that people have a place to go to be safe, be provided proper health care and seek assistance in overcoming their addictions.

    Thanks for sharing, Gene.

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