Award of Excellence
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"A SAFE PLACE"
INSITE is British Columbia's answer to drug addiction. Opened in 2003, the government run health care facility provides a safe place for intravenous drug users to shoot up, under the watchful eye of nurses and health care workers. They are offered free counselling, AIDS tests, medical checkups, and the ability to go into rehab. It has become a de facto community centre for one of the country most marginalized populations, where addicts can find respite from the streets. The site is fraught with controversy. Critics point out that INSITE enables drug addicts and condones their destructive behaviour. Others argue that the site attracts drug users and criminals into the neighbourhood – but according to the police, crime has neither increased or decreased. Often when the officers of the Vancouver Police Department find addicts shooting up on streets and in the alleys, instead of being arrested, they are escorted to Insite to do their hit there. Canadian narcotics laws do not apply inside the facility. There are between 800 to 1000 addicts a day who come through to use.
Drug addict Lawrence Golden-Brooks, 43, smokes crack out of a pipe in a Single Room Occupancy hotel room in Vancouver, Canada on Friday, Dec. 10, 2010. A former boxer from Sooke, in Vancouver Island, his brother died of AIDS which he got from a dirty needle. He occasionally uses Insite a safe injection site run by Vancouver Coastal Health, which provides clean needles and a safe place to use drugs.