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As InSite turns 10, others fight for supervised drug injection sites across Canada

Canada's only supervised injection site celebrated its 10th anniversary this weekend with advocates calling for the creation of similar facilities across the country.

InSite workers and clients, along with health officials and community members, marked the 10 year anniversary Friday morning during a ceremony at the facility -- which is located in Vancouver's troubled downtown eastside.

Some of the participants had mixed emotions.

Overdoses in Ottawa a preventable problem, say activists

1 person dies every 10 days in Ottawa from a drug overdose

A group of health-care workers and former drug addicts held a rally and silent walk Friday to draw attention to overdose deaths in Ottawa, with some arguing for a safe injection site for the city.

Saturday is International Overdose Awareness Day around the world, but in Ottawa the local chapter of the group behind the day held it Friday to draw attention to what they say is a preventable problem.

The group met at the Human Rights Monument on Elgin Street, where they placed 36 pairs of empty shoes — marked with labels such as son, daughter, friend and veteran — to represent those who have died of overdoses in the last year.

Gilles Dupuis said he recently lost two friends to the prescription drug fentanyl, and said he's had close calls himself. "Me personally, I've overdosed seven times, flatlined twice. So I am lucky to be alive," said Dupuis.

Dozens mark International Overdose Awareness Day

An average of 36 people die of overdoses in Ottawa every year and around 60 people gathered at the Human Rights monument on Elgin Street Friday morning to pay tribute to loved ones taken from them too soon.

Rob Boyd, the director of the Oasis program at the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre told CFRA they were also using International Overdose Awareness Day to raise awareness about the issue.

Canada’s next supervised injection site: Ottawa?

An Ottawa group aims to open Canada’s first supervised injection site since a landmark Supreme Court ruling gave Vancouver’s Insite the right to offer addicts a safe place to shoot up.

By all accounts, the odds are against them: They don’t have the backing of the city, the police or the province; they’re racing against the clock to apply for an exemption from federal drug laws before new legislation makes it tougher.

But proponents argue they can’t afford not to pursue it: Canada’s capital boasts sky-high hepatitis rates and Ontario’s highest rate of HIV infection among injection-drug users.

The real questions about Cory Monteith’s death

When famous Canadian actor Cory Monteith was found dead of a drug overdose on July 13, it shocked the world, and drew international headlines.

It was a stunning development, as Monteith, 31, appeared to have his well-documented battle with addiction under control, having served a stint in rehab just a few months earlier, and seemed to most to be on the right path — in recovery and thriving.

Plan for supervised injection site applauded by Ottawa users

A plan to open a supervised injection site for hard drug users in Ottawa is being applauded by some who say the facility would cut down on the city’s high HIV infection rate.

“People will start learning how to use clean needles. There will be less overdoses and many are infected with HIV,” said Crystal O’Hara, who started injecting morphine three years ago and but is now on methadone.

O’Hara said that she sometimes smokes crack and recently nodded off while using and woke to find she left her stove burner on with a radio nearby.

Researchers hit Ottawa streets to interview addicts

A research team has quietly taken to the streets to survey Ottawa drug users.

It’s part of an effort, by Participatory Research in Ottawa Understanding Drugs, to create a profile of the situation in the capital.

Volunteers are reaching out to hard drug users in the most vulnerable situations, many of whom regularly use IV drugs.

Over the past several months, they’ve interviewed more than 400 addicts on a range of topics, including drug use, homelessness, education and supervised injection sites.

Safe injection site close to reality in Ottawa

The push for Ottawa to get a controversial supervised injection site is gaining speed.

The Sandy Hill Community Health Centre on Wednesday said they are working to submit an application for an exemption from federal drug laws in order to open a "safer consumption site."

"We think we could do more for people in the community and drug users themselves," said Rob Boyd, director of the Oasis program at the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre.

"We feel it's important to move forward."

The courage to offer hope and new opportunity

Comments on the Supervised Injection Services in Toronto Report
Submission to members of the Toronto Board of Health
by David B. Gibson, Executive Director, on behalf of the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre.

I have travelled from Ottawa to be here before you because I have finally heard publically for the first time in this Province, the courage of a Public Health Organization to challenge what I call - the Politics of Harm – the silence of indifference, moral indignation, fear, ignorance, misinformation and outright discrimination of a small minority of people who live in our communities.

For much too long in this country, I have witnessed political ideology and expediency dismissing the available scientific evidence that over 90 sites around the world have been sharing for decades - that supervised injection services work as part of a continuum of health and well-being services.Time and time again we hear public officials who oppose supervised injection services on public health or safety grounds, make assertions that supervised injection services have a negative impact on the communities in which they operate.

They have been doing so it seems with impunity and yet they make these public statements without any evidence to support their assertions. Just saying no is not good enough anymore – not when people’s lives are at stake.

Instead of the Politics of Harm why can’t we reframe the discussions to the politics of hope and opportunity – where saving lives is more important than fixating on just one service intervention, namely, supervised injection services.

Harm reduction advocates urge Ottawa Public Health to take action

Toronto Public Health has recently come forward calling for a supervised injection site in their city, as well as publicly speaking out against Bill C-65. Bill C-65 is the proposed legislation putting further barriers towards opening more sites across Canada. Toronto Public Health clearly sees that their community is suffering due to inadequate service for their population of people who use drugs.

Ottawa Public Health has long been an advocate for community health. OPH describes its role as advocating for “public policies that make our city and its residents healthier”, however their voice has been notably absent in the recent discussion of the health of people that use drugs. Ottawa needs OPH to be at the forefront of the push for safer consumption sites.

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