What’s Caught our Attention – June 2020

Dr. Bonnie Henry, the overdose crisis and decriminalization

BC declared a state of emergency in March 2020 due to COVID-19. That month, 112 people died of an overdose in BC. In April, 117 died, followed by 170 deaths in May. The death toll for overdoses now far exceeds the 168 people in B.C. who have died of COVID-19.

The Globe and Mail published an editorial outlining Dr. Bonnie Henry’s “prescription” for B.C.’s “other” public health crisis – the opiod overdose crisis. The prescription? Decriminalizing drug use.

As society shut down during the pandemic, the risk for people who use drugs jumped. Access to services such as shelters, treatment and supervised consumption sites was limited, and still is. People became isolated. The toxic supply of street drugs, most tainted with fentanyl, worsened.

No Stigma In Saving A Life

On June 5th, Vernon Matters published an article about drug use stigma. The article provides resources for what an individual and a community as a whole can do to help reduce stigma. The data shows it: reducing stigma helps save lives.

The coroner’s report indicates that the majority of people who died from an illicit drug overdose were using alone. Stigma leads people to feel unworthy and unwanted by the community. When we reduce the stigma around substance use and overdoses, it helps to create a safer place for people to reach out.

Queer people must stand up for Black lives

June is Pride month, and the article For Pride, all queer people must stand up for Black lives by Marke Bieschke is an opportunity to reflect on the radical roots of pride, and how LGBTQ2+ liberation is dependent on the labour and struggle of Black and brown activists.

June is Pride month, and the streets are full of protesters against police murder and for Black lives—never has the connection between queer and Black struggles for justice been more plain, even if the histories of both those struggles are very different.

Envisioning a new method of community care

Motherjones has published an article with sociology professor Alex Vitale, inviting us to envision a new method of community care. Alex Vitale is the coordinator of the Policing & Social Justice Project and author of The End of Policing. The article explores the sweeping vision of police abolition and what it means in practice. What would a world with ample upstream funds for community care, rather than increased policing, look like?