By: Glenda Luymes, The Province
Pastor Ward Draper quotes Scripture and swears in the same breath.
He wears his clerical collar beneath a military-style black uniform as he leads a congregation of addicts at a Saturday-night church service in Abbotsford.
He dispenses communion — and crack pipes.
It’s tempting to call him a contradiction.
But Draper is adamant: “We’re bringing the church back to where it should be,” he says, meaning the streets and alleys where the community’s most vulnerable reside.
Draper is the pastor of The 5 and 2 Ministries — Canada’s only church outside Toronto that does needle exchange — in Abbotsford, the only community in the country with a bylaw banning harm reduction. Read more »
By: Cory Hurley, The Western Star
CORNER BROOK — The demand for clean needles is as rampant in western Newfoundland as it is on the eastern part of the province.
The AIDS Committee of Newfoundland and Labrador has distributed approximately 185,000 clean needles so far this year — after handing out 173,000 in all of 2011. The increase has exhausted the annual budget for its needle exchange program just six months in.
"For a lot of people in Newfoundland and Labrador, that is a bit shocking," Gerard Yetman, executive director of the AIDS committee, said. "A lot of people may think the number of IV drug users has increased. We have no way of saying that is the case or not."
In comparing Western Health's program in Corner Brook to Eastern Health's in St. John's, he said they are proportionately equivalent. The overall numbers are higher on the east coast, but that is only because of the larger population base. Read more »
By Martin Wissmath, The Hinton Parklander
Does Hinton need a needle exchange program?
That’s the question HIV West Yellowhead is looking to answer when they conduct a survey next month for users of injection drugs.
The regional HIV prevention and education society has received approval from the Community Research Ethics Board of Alberta to send a street worker from Edmonton through the Yellowhead region to find out how many people here use needles to inject drugs, either the prescription or illegal kind. The survey will take place September 17 – 21.
“We do have people coming to our needle exchange here in Edmonton to get clean syringes,” said Rosemary Fayant of Streetworks — a community outreach program in the provincial capital.
“Most of the people who inject drugs, it’s prescription drugs that they’re injecting…a lot of our community, they take it orally, if it’s an injury at work or something, and they end up injecting them because they’re not getting the pain relief that they want.” Read more »
BY AIDS ACTION NOW, RABBLE.CA
Demonstrators turned their back on Leona Aglukkaq, the Canadian Minister of Health, during her opening remarks at the North American Regional Session at the AIDS 2012 XIX International AIDS Conference this afternoon.
Activists from AIDS ACTION NOW! and Insite Vancouver addressed the Minister during her speech regarding her record of denying the science and evidence of harm reduction, as well as cuts to HIV programs across the country.
The Minster -- whose inaction and complacency on harm reduction, as well as recently implementing cuts to health and social services in Canada -- has earned her vocal criticism from health professionals during the conference. Read more »
By James Keller, The Canadian Press (Published on The Tyee)
ABBOTSFORD, B.C. - Once a week, Jamie MacDonald walks down a quiet alley in this sprawling community in British Columbia's Fraser Valley, finds a familiar black SUV and picks up a package of clean needles, alcohol swabs and other supplies for injecting heroin.
MacDonald doesn't need the needles himself -- although he's addicted to heroin, he smokes the drug -- but he has friends who do.
He takes a paper bag containing about 20 or so needles, meets with friends and chats with an outreach worker from Vancouver's Portland Hotel Society, who visits Abbotsford every Thursday with syringes, crack pipes and other supplies designed to make the lives of drug addicts safer. Read more »
BY DAN MACLENNAN, CAMPBELL RIVER COURIER-ISLANDER
Campbell River City council supports the distribution of crack pipe kits to crack addicts, but the decision was not unanimous Tuesday.
Councillors heard a presentation from AIDS Vancouver Island and the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) seeking city support to expand harm reduction services at the Campbell River AIDS Vancouver Island offices. Dr. Charmaine Enns, Medical Health Officer, said crack cocaine smoking is a neglected public health issue in Canada that needs to be addressed. She said people who smoke crack are extremely vulnerable to the transmission of hepatitis C and B and tuberculosis a well as HIV. Read more »
BY JUDITH LAVOIE, TIMES COLONIST
No addict chooses to shoot up in public, according to community activist Dean Wilson, speaking with the sincerity of experience.
Wilson, 56, an ex-heroin and cocaine addict and former president of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, is in Victoria to speak this evening at a community forum on the legal struggle to retain Insite, Vancouver's supervised injection site.
On a walk through downtown Victoria, Wilson, a plaintiff in last year's Insite Supreme Court case, is concerned about the lack of a fixed-site needle exchange or a supervised injection site in the capital region. Read more »
BY ROCHELLE BAKER, ABBOTSFORD TIMES
Harm reduction critics and advocates lined up to address Abbotsford council on Monday afternoon about whether to keep or repeal its anti-harm reduction bylaw.
Under pressure from Fraser Health Authority and harm reduction advocacy groups, the city has completed a technical review of the 2005 bylaw banning the provision of services to drug addicts.
On Monday, FHA public health director David Portesi outlined a proposed needle exchange plan supported by harm reduction advocacy groups, which were also scheduled to present to the city council. Read more »
EDITORIAL, THE TIMES
It is the Hippocratic Oath - first, do no harm.
Yet for seven years, the City of Abbotsford has hampered the ability of its medical community to reduce the suffering of our most fragile citizens: intravenous drug addicts.
In 2005, council approved a zoning change to ban harm reduction services such as needle exchanges.
The move was brought in under an air of self-righteous morale belief, not on information based on facts.
Under the tutelage of former Abbotsford MP Randy White, who railed against harm reduction, then-mayor Mary Reeves declared "harm reduction is a social services job creation program." Read more »
BY ELAINE O'CONNOR, THE SUNDAY PROVINCE
Abbotsford drug users - for years officially denied harm-reduction services in the conservative community - may soon have access to services such as addicts in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside have.
Faced with pressure from the health authority and advocacy groups, Abbotsford City Council will on May 28 review a 2005 zoning bylaw amendment prohibiting needle exchanges and safe- injection sites.
Mayor Bruce Banman, elected in 2011 on a pledge to make Abbotsford more progressive, said he's open to potentially scrapping the bylaw.
"From a humanitarian perspective, just because you're an addict doesn't mean you're entitled to less than the rest of us," Banman said. Read more »