Pubdate: Fri, 17 Feb 2012
Source: Vancouver Courier (CN BC)
Copyright: 2012 Vancouver Courier
Author: Aiyanas Ormond


To the editor:

Re: "Pro-dope VANDU doesn't deserve taxpayer money," Feb. 15.

Thank you to the Courier for publishing Mark Hasiuk's polemic against 
the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU). Notwithstanding Mr. 
Hasiuk's woefully ahistorical and unscientific understanding of drug 
policy, addiction and harm reduction, the article is a very good 
description of what VANDU does.

Yes: Our mandate is to give a voice to (and empower) current and 
former users of illicit drugs.

Yes: We recognize that drug use is often shaped by individual and 
collective experiences of oppression-of poverty, colonization, 
residential schools and childhood abuse.

Yes: We think being part of a social justice movement dealing with 
these experiences of oppression and violence is a positive social 
response and part of healing from these experiences.

Yes: Seeking liberation from the criminalization, stigma and hate 
that people who use drugs are subjected to is part of this social 
justice orientation.

No: We don't treat people who use drugs like they need to be fixed, 
and that the only legitimate conversation you can have with a drug 
user is about how they are going to stop using drugs.

Yes: We think people who use drugs can make positive contributions to 
our community and our city, for example by promoting pedestrian 
safety and access to public toilets in our neighbourhood and by 
advocating for housing, for raising the criminally low welfare rates, 
and for a drug policy based on public health, social justice and human rights.

Aiyanas Ormond,

Community Organizer/ Volunteer Coordinator

Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users
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