The Open Society Foundations have produced a short video that recaps the history of Insite, Vancouver’s supervised injection facility, which is connected with a housing program and other services to help people who use drugs in the city’s Downtown Eastside.
Liz Evans, who speaks on the video, recounts how the program was conceived amid 50 percent HIV rates among injection drug users, inspired by a similar facility in Germany. Founded in 2003, Insite remains today the only 2,000 square feet in North America where people who use banned drugs are not committing a crime.
Studies have demonstrated that Insite prevents many fatalities and provides other benefits to its community—it has also referred thousands of people to detox programs. The example it provides is particularly relevant to the US at a time when a number of cities—including, recently, Ithaca, New York—are considering introducing their own supervised injection facilities.
“You cant reach people if they are excluded,” says Evans. Rejecting the idea, posited by critics, that Insite is any kind of “celebration of drug use,” she says: “No, in fact, it’s a celebration of a drug user’s life, because we value the life of a drug user enough to keep them alive.”