The Abbotsford chapter of BC/Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors (DWS) announced today that its peaceful protest camp in Jubilee Park will continue until a temporary solution is found for its members.
Barry Shantz, head of the Abbotsford DWS, said the protest, which began on Sunday, will be extended to give the group more time to advocate for housing solutions for marginalized people in the city.
“We have had nothing but positive reactions to our protest,” Shantz said. “A local businessman has provided us with some porta-potties, city staff came by and provided us with some garbage bags so we can keep the park clean and tidy, and the public seem genuinely interested in learning what all the fuss is about.”
Shantz said the DWS intends to stay in Jubilee Park until there is a housing solution for homeless people.
“Until the community can come up with a better solution than having members of DWS living in ditches and being chased around the city and treated like vermin, we’re asking for an Abbotsford Temporary Dignity Village,” he said.
The Abbotsford chapter of DWS has been advocating for humane and dignified approaches to housing and health care for people who consume drugs in their community.
In May 2013, the DWS filed a lawsuit against the City of Abbotsford challenging their anti-harm-reduction zoning bylaw.
The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has also agreed to hear a complaint on behalf of Abbotsford drug users alleging that the bylaw discriminates on the basis of the disability of drug dependence.
On Aug. 31, DWS and several other groups which work with the poor and the homeless in Abbotsford celebrated Overdose Awareness Day with a similar peaceful protest and public education day in Jubilee Park.