Drugreporter and INPUD present the second episode of an oral history of the movement of people who use drugs. The second chapter is about Canada, featuring Ann Livingston, Zoë Dodd and the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) team.
In the early ‘90s the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) was formed in response to the HIV crisis and overdoses among people who use drugs. The tireless work of Ann Livingston and VANDU contributed to significant changes in how people who use drugs were treated in the city. Among the various harm reduction services that formed, they contributed to the opening of the first legal drug consumption room in North America and trials with heroin prescription programs.
With the emergence of fentanyl in the illegal drug market, the overdose epidemic skyrocketed, and in 2018, more than 10,300 Canadians died as a result of an apparent opioid-related overdose. Activists like Zoë Dodd from the Toronto Drug Users Union and the Toronto Overdose Prevention Society reacted by opening up illegal overdose prevention sites, saving many, many lives. Their civil disobedience has changed the landscape of Canadian Drug Policy: those illegal sites eventually became legal.
Many people are still dying every day in Canada, and drug user activist groups like VANDU, the BC-Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors, and the Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs (CAPUD) are fighting for a safe drug supply, so people in need have access to an unpolluted source of their drug of choice.
Starting on Monday, 6th of July 2020, we publish one episode per week for 10 weeks. The episodes follow the timeline of the development of the movement of people who use drugs from Amsterdam to Afghanistan and globally.
The production of the series has been a great adventure. We conducted 34 video interviews in 20 countries around the world. 8 interviews were filmed by the Rights Reporter Foundation, the rest by members of our Drugreporter Video Advocacy Network, video activists, and freelance videographers worldwide.
The documentary series is part of the online conference “HIV 2020: Community Reclaiming the Global Response” which runs from July through October of 2020.
An alliance of global key population-led networks, networks of people living with HIV, treatment activists, and our supporters, has formed to organize an alternative international community-led online event.
The HIV2020 alliance has decided to organize the community-led event to provide an alternative for individuals who cannot or will participate in the AIDS2020 virtual conference. Its goal is to offer new opportunities to reaffirm the leading role communities play in the global HIV response.
To view each new episode every Monday, beginning today, visit this page.
This project was made possible by the financial support of the Bridging the Gaps Programme. This unique programme addresses the common challenges faced by sex workers, people who use drugs and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in terms of human rights violations and accessing much-needed HIV and health services. Go to www.hivgaps.org for more information.
István Gábor Takács