is a group of users and former users who work to improve
the lives of people who use illicit drugs through
user-based peer support and education.

Is a grassroots democratic organization of drug users

With a membership comprised of user groups and drug users’ activists, the Association was formed at the Pacific Summit on Drug User Health, held in Vancouver in June 2009. The Summit brought together over 100 active drug users from British Columbia and the Yukon, as well as non-user volunteers and professionals with the goal of the meeting was to unite the sentiments of former and current users. The Association is the realization of that goal.

The Association is to be separated into the same regions that exist already under the B.C. Health Care system: Fraser Health, Vancouver Coastal Health, Interior Health, Northern Health, and Vancouver Island Health Authority, as well as members from the Yukon as a whole.

The Purposes of the Association are:

To celebrate the strengths we have as people who use drugs that allows us to survive and resist the war on drugs

To realize, deepen and share the love, camaraderie, and wisdom found in drug user support groups

To empower people who currently use drugs deemed illegal to survive and to thrive, with their human rights respected and their voices heard

To improve the quality of life for people who use illicit drugs by developing and implementing educational programs and training events that ensure learning opportunities about safer drug use and harm reduction

To establish an inclusive social justice network for people who use drugs that encourages, supports and welcomes drug users from across British Columbia and connects them with drug user networks access British Columbia, across Canada, and across the world

To develop networks and coalitions of informed and empowered people, both users and nonusers, which work to improve the health and social conditions of people who use illicit drugs

To promote a better public understanding of the problems and dilemmas facing people who use illegal drugs and thus encourage the development of saner drug policies and laws at local, regional and national levels

To ensure that the voices of people who use illicit drugs are strengthened and empowered so that their concerns about social, medical and economic issues can be heard by policy makers, service providers, and the public at large

Six Points of Unity of the Association:

We are a group of survivors of the drug war

We strive for social justice and advocate for human rights for people who use drugs.

We work to eliminate the discrimination, criminalization, stigmatization and isolation of people who use drugs in all areas of social, economic and political life.

We are against the prohibition of drugs, and for the regulation of currently illegal drugs

“Our Lives, Our Voice, Our Way” – people who use drugs must have real representation and power within those institutions that have a significant impact on our lives.

We recognize that various groups are differently affected by the harms associated with the use of drugs, and they may need to organize autonomously as well as part of the larger group. We support the self-directed empowerment of drug war survivors and are committed to the diversity and autonomy of our members.
BC/Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors’ approach to reforming public policy is based on a social movement model which sees the actions of the group subjugated by the existing social system, broader social attitudes towards the issues in question and government policy and practices as fundamentally interrelated essentials of an evolving, and thus changeable, social agreement. Societal movements like the Abolition of Slavery, the Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Liberation Movement were successful when self-organized activity of the oppressed group (including both the radical and reformist activities) took on oppressive policies and practices at the level of broad political struggle, and were thus able to shift social attitudes and public policy simultaneously and dialectically.

BC/Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors believes that grassroots democratic organizing among people who use illicit drugs at the local, region and national level can serve as the building blocks for a social movement that has the strength, determination and staying power to fundamentally change drug policy.

In response to epidemic rates of HIV/AIDS infection and general social unrest BC/Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors formed in June 14, 2009 by discussion and consensus by participants at the  HYPERLINK “http://www.drugwarsurvivors.org/documents/PacificSummitVANDUjune2009.doc” \t “_blank” Pacific Summit on Drug Users Health, Vancouver, B.C. to address issues of poverty, social exclusion, criminalization, and ancillary illness from the ground up. BC/Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors is a registered non-profit, and its’ primary objective is to increase capacity of people who use illicit drugs to live healthy and productive lives. This is accomplished through peer-based support and education. BC/Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors holds several weekly support group meetings, and its membership is actively involved in public awareness and education campaigns (through media, conferences, and outreach), hospital visits, and community and legal advocacy. Since 2009, BC/Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors’ membership is growing, making BC/Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors a recognized association.
In keeping with our goals and beliefs, BC/Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors:

Is committed to increasing the capacity of people who use drugs to live healthy productive lives. We do this by affirming and strengthening people who use drugs to reduce harm to themselves and their communities. We organize in our communities to save lives by promoting local, regional and national harm reduction education, interventions and Peer Support.

Challenges traditional client/provider relationships and empowers people who use drugs to design and implement harm reduction interventions.

Believes in every person’s right to health and well-being. We also believe that all people are competent to protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities from drug related harm. Understands that drug use ranges from total abstinence to severe abuse – we recognize that some ways of using drugs are clearly safer than others.

Recognizes that the realities of poverty, racism, social isolation, past trauma, mental illness and other inequalities increase people’s vulnerability to addiction and reduce their capacity for effectively reducing drug related harm.