NEW) FOUNDING MEMBER, OVERDOSE PREVENTION SOCIETY
The Rebel When themanager of the DTESMarket, Sarah Blyth, set up two tents on theDowntown Eastside, little did she realize how manythousands ofpeople would come todepend on them. After the provincial government declared a state of emergency for the opioid crisis back in April, red tape and reluctant politicians were delaying any well-intended eorts from civil servants, and lives were lost every day. So, Blyth and several other DTES activists took matters into their own hands, opening a safe injection site in an alley o East Hastings Street, staed by volunteers trained to act quickly in the event a narcotics user suffers from afentanyl overdose—a system thatimpressed Vancouver Coastal Health so much, they are now rapidly trying to replicate Blyth’s infrastructure.
“She was clever about it,” says Donald MacPherson, executive director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition. “She named it the ‘Overdose Prevention Society’— meaning it says nothing about illegal injection sites in the title. It meant the police could turn a blind eye to it.” And so the police did, along with local health authorities. That is, until Blyth’s method proved to be successful. “Just see the number of people that have been through that trailer of hers to see the impact she’s had,” says MacPherson. “Federal politicians, provincial politicians…they want to take her system andimplement it in other cities throughout Canada, but they haven’t been able to do it as quickly as she’s done.”