Feature Image Art by Deb Breau

My letter to chief constable VPD and chief coroner of BC regarding the impact of overdose deaths in the Downtown Eastside and what they can do to help: Ann Livingston Friends of InSite Canadian Drug Policy CoalitionSarah Blyth

Libby Davies

January 10, 2017

Lisa Lapointe, Chief Coroner
Metrotower II Suite 800 – 4720 Kingsway
Burnaby, BC V5H 4N2

Chief Constable Adam Palmer
Vancouver Police Department
2120 Cambie street
Vancouver, BC V52 4N6

Dear Ms. Lapointe and Chief Constable Palmer,

I am writing to you on a matter of great urgency regarding the staggering and tragic number of over dose deaths in our Province.

It is heartbreaking to see the devastating impact of these deaths on families, and local communities, especially those that are vulnerable and already suffering.

There are urgent needs for more accessible safe injection sites, as well as treatment on demand, medicalized heroin, and public education about fentanyl, all of which must be instituted, requiring all jurisdictions to work together – but we mustn’t forget those who have died and the community they were a part of. This is why I am writing to you both as Chief Coroner and Chief Constable in the hopes that you might be able to assist.

In speaking with people who are experiencing the ongoing trauma of the lose of life from overdoses, it’s become clear that part of the impact is people not knowing for sure who has been lost – and not being able to grieve and provide support.

In the Downtown Eastside in particular, where many of the overdose deaths have occurred, the local community is at a loss to know what has happened to individual people. It is a tight knit community, and drug users look out for each other, but even so, there is in many cases a lack of specific knowledge about who has died and therefore difficulty in processing what has happened and being able to support one another and the community as a whole.

I have been requested to ask you, if it is at all possible for your offices to release in a timely way, the names of those in the Downtown Eastside who have died from overdoses? It’s an unusual request I know, but these are rough times for people, and anything we can do to ease the suffering and support people and the community is in order.

I respectfully ask if you will consider this request at least in principle – as I am sure there are details to be considered further.

Libby Davies
Former Member of Parliament 1997-2015
CC Laura Shaver, President, VANDU