In conversation with our neighbours, and as we investigated this issue of drug use and addiction in Kitchener more fully, it has become clear that because very strong synthetic opioids like Fentanyl and Carfentanyl are being mixed into street drugs, drug use has become even more deadly than before. Overdose deaths are becoming increasingly common.
This has led us to investigate what a broader and more comprehensive response to addiction and unsafe drug use in downtown Kitchener might be, including the possibility of supporting a supervised injection site. Bishop Linda Nichols has put this very well, writing:
We would, of course, prefer to end the prevalence of drug addictions in our communities. However, for those who are addicted the process leading to recovery is long, slow and difficult. Along the way the need for support, including harm reduction through safe injection sites is a proven factor in assisting such healing.
As a result of the need for a comprehensive response to drug use and addiction, the following statement has been prepared and vetted by parish leaders:
We, the wardens, clergy, Memorial Garden trustees, Parish Nurse, and Parish Council of the church of St. John the Evangelist, Kitchener, support a supervised injection site in downtown Kitchener for the following reasons:
- We support a supervised injection site for the sake of safety. St. John’s is already an unsafe and unsupervised injection site, making it unsafe both for those injecting and using, and for those of us who use the memorial garden and green space of the church. As part of a comprehensive response to addiction (that includes other forms of treatment, including counselling and rehabilitation) we support the site because it will mean that overdose deaths and other complications will be lessened. Further, research tells us that when there is a supervised injection site nearby, the number of dirty needles found in public spaces is lessened considerably, which would contribute to the safety of our green spaces, and make our green spaces safer for all those who visit and use them.
- We support a supervised injection site for the sake of human dignity. We love our neighbours; even, and perhaps especially, those among us who are users and suffering from addiction. A supervised injection site is far better than leaving people to inject in alleyways and in public parks, which only contributes to social marginalisation. To offer addicts and users a safe space, free from judgment, and where other social services could be accessed, including additional treatment options, would offer some dignity to our neighbours who inject. This support is one way for us to express our unreserved love for them.
This statement will be the basis of our advocacy efforts going forward.
Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or concerns.
The Revd Dr. Preston DS Parsons, Honourary Assistant