A group is hoping to teach people across Canada, including residents in Regina, about the positives of having safe injection sites within the city.
The group, called Collective Resistance to Injustice, is going from Vancouver to Ottawa and stopping in cities along the way to educate people on the use of safe injection sites.
Safe injection sites allows people to use their substances around trained professionals, have access to drugs that can stop an overdose and can test their substance for the presence of Fentanyl.
The group set up a mock site on the lawn of Regina City Hall to provide education about the sites and how they have been used.
Nessa Tousi, who is from Vancouver, says the program is a part of something that began decades ago, when a group put stakes in the ground to represent all the lives lost in Vancouver due to drug overdoses.
“Since it’s inception in-site has had zero deaths on site, its had upwards of 100,000 users come through the door,” Tousi said.
She said people have attempted to shut down the sites on many occasions.
“Through advocacy and activism and really hard diligent work by members of that community, its stayed open and saved countless lives.”
Tousi said the sites have been backed by the government and police in Vancouver.
Lorne Gill spent a decade in Vancouver working with mental health and addictions and has been working in Regina for the past two years.
He said there are already injection sites in Regina but they are in alleys and homes.
“I think that the need for a safe injection site does exist in Regina,” Gill said.
He said that the province has the highest rate of HIV in the country and also has one of the highest rates of opioid overdoses per capita as well. Gill said those are both reasons why a safe injection site is needed.
“Coming from Vancouver where I just thought we were the epicentre of opioid addictions and overdoses, I would have never ever have said that Saskatchewan had more per capita than us,” Gill said. “It’s shocking.”
Gill said that Regina needs to be prepared for the worst if Fentanyl becomes a major problem in the city.
Gill said that everyone has the right to help people if they are overdosing because of the Samaritan law that is in Canada. The law prevents anyone who is helping someone from overdosing or the person that is overdosing, from being criminally charged.
He said that he has talked to city councillors about getting a site set up but couldn’t say if it has been talked about within council.
“I think the next step is too just open one, whether or not Regina’s ready for it.”