Pubdate: Thu, 09 Feb 2012 Source: Ubyssey (CN BC Edu) Contact: http://www.ubyssey.ca/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/706 Author: Grace Qiao FIX: THE STORY OF AN ADDICTED CITY, A DECADE LATER "[Michael] Ondaatje once called me Canada's most famous addict." Dean Wilson shared this anecdote with students in the Norm Theatre on Tuesday evening after Cinema Politica's screening of FIX: The Story of an Addicted City. Wilson, the ex-president of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU), is a central figure in Nettie Wild's 2002 Canadian documentary. "After that, I called up my mother and said, 'Hey! Look, something became of me!'" Wilson joked. After 33 years of battling addiction, Wilson has proudly maintained two years of sobriety at the age of 49. Humorous, knowledgeable and very articulate, he spoke about the film that documents his and others' arduous journey to bring a safe drug consumption site to Vancouver's Downtown Eastside -- all while battling his own addiction with heroin and struggling with the daily dealings of death on his city blocks. The camera follows Dean Wilson and his love interest, VANDU's passionate and spiritual sober organizer, Ann Livingston, as they lead street addicts in demanding from the city proper attention to Vancouver's most sick and vulnerable. The film ends with the unanimous (although somewhat reluctant) passing of the Four Pillar Approach action plan by city councillors in 2001. After Vancouver Mayor Philip Owen's championing of this approach, which included harm reduction strategies, Insite was opened in 2003 as North America's first -- and highly controversial -- legal safe injection site. "I really respect Philip," Wilson said. "At one point, he was really against us; once he figured things out, he changed his mind and that cost him dearly, personally and politically. For a politician to admit wrong is a big thing. "[Philip] really is a decent man. I can't think of a higher accolade to give someone." Nevertheless, Wilson said that today, the battle is not yet won. The gritty depiction of life on the streets in Wild's 2002 film is a reality that is both steadfast and dynamically changing. The streets are cleaner and overdose deaths have dropped significantly, but the people are still sick with addiction. "What's happening on the ground right now is most people smoke rock rather than inject cocaine [which has recently become more popular on the streets]." Wilson's next goal is to outfit Vancouver with a safe inhalation site, stating that the harm reduction model should be more inclusive. In fact, Insite was built with ventilation equipment for a supervised inhalation room, but all proposals of opening the service have been rejected. "We may not be dying of HIV or overdose, but what aren't we dying of?" Wilson asked. "I use [the film] as a tool to engage people who don't think the way I think." After touring for the movie and attending several other speaking gigs, Wilson rarely does public talks anymore. But he makes exceptions for students. "I want young people to have all the information to make a rational decision," said Wilson, "and I don't care whether they support me or not, I just want them to have all the facts." - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.