On October 25, 2023, co-founders of Vancouver’s Drug User Liberation Front (DULF) were arrested as part of a broader criminalization campaign against the provision of safe drug supply. Eris Nyx and Jeremy Kalicum face undeclared charges in provincial court on January 16, 2024.
Since BC declared a Public Health Emergency in 2016 in response to unregulated drug toxicity, over thirteen thousand people have suffered preventable deaths. Alberta and BC comprise the majority of the more than 40,000 opioid poisoning deaths in Canada between 2016 and 2023.
While little has changed in federal policy, regulated opioids have become considerably scarcer. In 2015, accelerated opioid de-prescribing was landmarked as the open gate for fentanyl to dominate the unregulated opioid supply.
Reversing this pattern of unrelenting death should have been a matter of retracing political steps. It has proven otherwise.
Please share this post so Calgarians can attend the Rally and March on January 16.
DULF emerged four years into the Public Health Emergency to fill the enormous gap between political statements and required policy actions. They reimagined the missteps taken in 2016 as a moment in which people who use drugs were granted safe access to their medications instead of daily threat of death.
Since the arrests of Nyx and Kalicum, nearly 2,000 people and over 250 organizations worldwide have signed a letter of support demanding that the BC government, the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Police Department:
- Immediately cease criminalizing community-regulated safe supply in BC;
- Restore DULF funding cut by Vancouver Coastal Health;
- Formalize a commitment to create a framework to uphold and protect community-regulated safe supply in BC.
The majority of individual signatories (70%) inhabit British Columbia.
Since the arrests, a new study was published in a top medical journey showing up to 90% reduction in death among people accessing BC’s prescribed safe supply. DULF’s community-regulated model shows similar promise along with other public benefits including reduced criminal involvement and hospitalizations. These findings are in agreement with a rapidly growing body of research on safe supply in Canada.
All of this plays out while Edmonton’s City Council undertakes emergency deliberations on its houselessness strategy while the Alberta government attempts to play down concerns. Across Alberta, unhoused people now make up nearly half of drug toxicity deaths—already a crisis well beyond emergency deliberations.
Our boundlessly wealthy province may be incapable of mustering the political competence to house its citizens before the next cold snap, but with provincial legislation, we can eliminate the leading cause of death among our most neglected neighbours. On January 16, we demand that the Alberta government allow full replacement of the unregulated drug supply with safer, regulated alternatives to initiate a reversal of this politically fuelled massacre.
A full press release will follow on January 16 at 3PM MST.
Media may contact Euan Thomson in the meantime by replying. Speakers at the rally will be available for interviews and include Michelle Robinson (Native Calgarian), Terrill Tailfeathers, members of AAWEAR and Street Cats, Danielle English, and Ophelia Black, who won a temporary court injunction against the Alberta government in 2023 to protect her access to safe supply hydromorphone.
Speakers and attendees will be available for interviews at the Rally and March—details in the event poster below.