Thursday, March 15, 2012



Circle this date: SEPTEMBER 20th

The first annual DPNC fundraiser will step in front of the lights at the Michael J. Fox Theatre in Burnaby.

Our headliner guest has sold 35 million records worldwide.

We will want you there.

And we will ask some of you to volunteer to make the night a great success.

Details will follow in the coming weeks & months.

Please help us help you in your continuing great work in Prevention & Treatment.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Black market to save addicts it created?

They are called the "black planes."

They fly in the middle of the night, in total darkness, their running lights turned off.

They swoop over lakes nearby First Nations communities and invisibly drop their loads: boxes of OxyContin, much of which has been manufactured in illegal drug labs offshore.

Soon, there are snowmobiles roaring over the ice to pick up the cargo. Or in summertime, canoes, rowboats and small motorboats glide over the water with the same goal.

And so many of the men, women and children of a First Nation are able to get their fix.

If they don't, they will get very sick. So sick they may even die.

It's called "withdrawal."

Without their regular dose every eight hours or so, OxyContin addicts experience what has been called the "flu times 20" -- cold sweats, cramping, nausea, vomiting, stomach and leg cramps, diarrhea and overall sick, very, very sick. Withdrawal can last from 72 hours to a week and it is extremely difficult to cope without help from medical professionals.

First Nations leaders are saying that 70 per cent of the people in some of their communities are addicted to OxyContin. There are a multitude of reasons for this but the solutions are long term and a recent decision by the manufacturer of OxyContin (Purdue Pharma) seems to have created an immediate emergency, according to those same First Nations leaders.

Production of OxyContin ceased on March 1. In its place, the pharmaceutical manufacturers are offering OxyNEO, which is less susceptible to abuse because it is difficult to crush (and chew or snort or mix for intravenous injection) and it turns into a gel or tar when mixed with water, making it difficult to inject.
First Nations leaders are justifiably concerned about the potential of thousands of their citizens suddenly going into withdrawal, overloading their already overburdened health-care system. And face it, who wants to see friends and relatives and other loved ones go through so much sheer pain?

There are a multitude of reasons OxyContin addiction has become rampant in many remote, isolated First Nations. The experts testify it is both nature and nurture at work.

First of all, because these communities often are remote, there can be a genetic predisposition that is built up towards addictions. There are natural forces in the biology that are driving people towards seeking chemicals, which will release the endomorphs that cause addiction.

There is also the drive to escape reality -- multi-generational impacts of residential schools, abuse, dysfunctional environments -- which turns people into addicts.

The switch to OxyNEO doesn't seem to be the problem, because abuse of prescribed drugs has not been the major problem. Sure, there have been some unethical people who have obtained prescriptions they sell off for a profit, but an accounting of prescribed OxyContin in First Nations reveals it is not being handed out willy-nilly.

No, the major problem is the black market for addictive prescription drugs on Canada's remote First Nations.

"We are very worried about our brothers and sisters who are addicted to this drug. There is nothing to replace it," said Mike Metatawabin, the deputy chief of the 49-band Nishnawbe Aski Nation in the James Bay region.

"In our remote communities we are expecting a mass withdrawal of people who are addicted to this."
But the switch to OxyNEO seems to be causing nothing more than alarms about the highly addictive nature of the drug. As long as black market OxyContin continues to be manufactured and smuggled into First Nations, the problem of addiction continues and the worries about withdrawal can be withdrawn, for the immediate time being at least.

Still, Nishnawbe Aski Nation Chief Stan Beardy fears a "mass involuntary opiate withdrawal."


Patients who use OxyContin responsibly will get the same benefits from OxyNEO. Addicts who abuse this opiate by snorting or injecting will still get their supply from the black market.

We can all hope there isn't an "immediate problem" of mass withdrawal, but it appears the only real, long-term solution is to stop the supply of OxyContin from illegal offshore smugglers.

Friday, March 9, 2012


Hello Everyone
Well it's coming up to be "that time of the year again" when we have our annual Odd Squad fundraiser on Thursday, June 7th, at the Vancouver Convention Centre West as per the Evite I received just today from "home office". It has been 15 years since we started Odd Squad. What an adventure it has been!
Sorry to contact you with this blanket notice, but I am leading an early charge for Odd Squad in inviting everyone who is on my mailing list who is either:  a friend, a previous donor, someone whose life Odd Squad has affected in a positive way, or whom I believe could be influential in assisting us in this gala. This is quite a list!  
As I was entering the addresses for this mass e-mail out, I realized how so many of you contributed so much to Odd Squad in the past. We owe a lot to you already. You are individual and corporate sponsors, money and auction item donors, previous gala attendees, great corporate citizens offering in-kind services, financial and business mentors and advisors, musicians, technical personnel, writers, teachers, treatment specialists, volunteers of all sorts (for our film projects, fundraisers, outreach work, etc.), moral supporters, and many more!
This year's fundraiser will be very special and particularly exciting as we will be highlighting our successes over the past decade and a half. It will be a visual presentation not to be missed.
I do want you to help us to continue the very important work we are undertaking in helping youth make positive choices in their lives through our video production work, drug and gang presentations, and outreach programs via 'On Track' and the 'Junior Hockey Mentoring Program'. I am humbled by your collective support. We could not achieved the amazing things that we have accomplished without you and for that I thank you.
I will be following up with many of you to see if you can donate an auction item (or can arrange for an auction item to be donated), to see if you would care to donate financially to our cause, and to see if you would care to attend our gala. It will be sold out months in advance so please show your interest now or you will be left in the parking lot!
If all that you can do is to forward this information on to others who may have an interest in supporting us, then please do that.
Who knew that we would have come this far?
Thanks again for your unwavering support of Odd Squad as we pass this impressive milestone.
Al Arsenault
Founding Member/ Producer/ Director
Odd Squad Productions Society

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


The following article on possible new "safe" injection sites in Montreal appeared in Monday's Globe and Mail and was sent to me by our national Vice-President, Gwen Landolt.

After the piece, I have added a few comments of my own.

March 4, 2012

Montreal divided on location of safe-injection sites

From Monday's Globe and Mail

A proven downtown needle exchange is a logical first choice, but mayor wants program to be at health-care establishments

With its glass walls and breezily painted street front, Cactus Montréal looks more like a community gym than what it is - a needle exchange that stands at the heart of a dispute over the future of Montreal's supervised drug-injection plans.

When the Supreme Court opened the door last fall to safe-injection clinics in Canada, health officials in Montreal expected to move quickly and follow the lead of Vancouver's Insite. Canada's second-largest city seemed like a natural location for such a service, with its high number of intravenous drug users and reputation for tolerant social attitudes.

But now health officials have sailed into political headwinds.

The Montreal health authority wants to set up a string of three sites across the city in locations that would include front-line community clinics such as Cactus, a long-established centre in downtown Montreal that already offer free needles to drugs users.

City hall is onside about spreading the sites out to avoid concentrating them in one place - but that is where agreement ends. Voicing concerns for public safety, Mayor Gérald Tremblay is saying no to Cactus, insisting that safe-injection services be run out of official health locales such as hospitals.

The mayor says the gritty pocket of downtown where Cactus is located is already overloaded with homelessness, mental-health problems and drug dealing.

"The neighbourhood already has too high a concentration of people in crisis," Mr. Tremblay said at a public meeting last month.

The stand has opened a breach in an already volatile issue. Health officials say it makes sense to put the new site where drugs users are (authorities also favour a mobile unit). A survey of intravenous drug users by health authorities last year found that only 37 per cent would use an injection site in a hospital, compared with 96 per cent in front-line locations like Cactus. The group's credentials, meanwhile, are indisputable: Opened 23 years ago, it was the first needle-exchange program in North America and currently gets 35,000 visits each year.

"There are community groups like Cactus that have proven themselves for over 20 years," said Carol Morissette of the Montreal Public Health Department, who is handling the supervised-injection file. "If the objective is to reach the greatest numbers possible, community groups are at the top of the list for providing services. They have the expertise ... we can't just set them aside."

Users support that view. Alexandra de Kiewit, who speaks for an advocacy group for drug users, says addicts avoid hospitals and other formal health-care settings.

"They get looked at funny, and judged," she said. At places like Cactus, she said, "they feel they have a relationship of trust."

Meanwhile, the mayor is facing pressure from residents and merchants downtown. Cactus is located on a commercial strip of Ste. Catherine St. E. that's got its share of panhandlers, sex workers and hard-drug users. But new condos are rising just two blocks away, part of city hall's efforts to lure families to central Montreal; and the city's vaunted entertainment district, Quartier des spectacles, is taking form only a few blocks west.

"We're worried about the honey pot effect," said Gaëtan Paquet, who speaks for a coalition of downtown residents who oppose the choice of Cactus. "People will come from Boston and Vancouver and say, 'Hey, let's go for a trip and shoot up.' "

The disagreement underscores the challenges facing Canadian cities as they try to follow in Vancouver's footsteps. The stakes are high, however. Louis Letellier de St-Just, the president of Cactus, says Montreal's handling of the issue is being watched not only in Canada "but around the globe."

"This is a concern in all the Western world," he said. "Quebec is considered progressive. All eyes are turned toward it."

Montreal will take its plans for approval to Quebec Health Minister Yves Bolduc, who has insisted that the proposal's prime criteria remains "social acceptability." An aide said in an interview that the minister wants to see all the players agree on a scheme.

In the heady aftermath of last September's Supreme Court decision, which ordered the federal government to let Insite keep operating and ruled that it had saved lives, Cactus officials said they hoped to open a supervised injection site in Montreal by spring. Now the most optimistic scenario is the fall.

"It's a marathon," Dr. Morissette said, "that we still hope to win."

And so we see what it has all come down to.

We no longer debate the lunacy of dreadfully bad public policy. We just argue about where best to put the poisoned pen. Downtown or the hospital? As if these were worthy considerations or anything more than diversions.

Of course, the addicts don't want to have to go to the hospital, and there are two good reasons.

1. Addicts, like all children frozen in time, want what they want when and where they want it which is here and now. Why should the poor souls have to travel to get their free needles and clean rooms in which to shoot heroin paid for by property crime? Gosh, that's terribly inconvenient.

2. A Hospital??? Please, some muddle-headed doctor, nurse, social worker or other do-gooder might try to talk me into going into treatment and getting clean. Puleeeese!

Authorities are also in favour of a mobile needle and shooting gallery option.


Do we have mobile units for osteoporosis or cancer?

Not that I've noticed.

In a country with an aging and aged population, those offerings might make some sense; but here we are preparing to spend tax dollars on mobile clinics for people who never pay taxes and survive by stealing, pimping and prostituting.

What is so appalling and discouraging is the fervent passion of doctors and others in favor of these destructive enabling policies.

How could so many people be so wrong so often?

David Berner
Executive Director,

Monday, March 5, 2012

Awareness Week

The following article is taken directly from today's Vancouver Sun. Children of the Street is a DPNC member organization and we congratulate Diane and her team on this initiative and their continuing great prevention work.

Campaign aims to protect children from exploitation

The 14th Annual Stop the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Youth Awareness Week takes place March 5 to 11.

Fuchsia-coloured ribbons will be distributed by the Coquitlam-based Children of the Street Society, which is sponsoring the awareness week in conjunction with the provincial government.

"The week recognizes the importance of supporting communities in developing prevention, education, enforcement and intervention strategies to address the sexual exploitation of children and youth," said Diane Sowden, executive director of the Children of the Street Society.

Fuchsia is the colour chosen for the ribbons as it is a combination of red, symbolizing red-light districts, and purple, the provincial colour for violence prevention.

The society offers prevention and education workshops for youth and adults, which are available through schools, community groups, parent advisory councils, and professional associations.

In 2011, the society conducted more than 600 workshops involving over 30,000 participants across B.C.
People wishing to donate to the non-profit society can do so through