Pubdate: Tue, 12 Dec 2017
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Toronto Star
Author: Emily Mathieu
Page: GT6


Fighting back tears, Olympia Lynn Trypis stood in the rotunda of city
hall and begged for better services for drug users, to save her life
and the lives of her friends.

"In the last two years I've lost three of my really close friends and
I am tired of having to go to funerals and not celebrating more
birthdays. These people were beautiful souls," said Trypis, 22,
speaking to a crowd who had marched to city hall in memory of people
lost to drug overdoses, or contaminated drugs.

The friends, all in their early 20s, included advocate Brooklyn Rae
McNeil, who died of an overdose last year.

"Unfortunately, I can't bring back my friends, but I can try and save
the ones that are still here," Trypis said.

Trypis had co-organized the rally, including a "die-in" where more
than 70 people fell to the ground in the rotunda and called out the
names of the dead.

The group walked silently from Moss Park, where the Toronto Overdose
Prevention Society and the Toronto Harm Reduction Alliance have been
operating an unsanctioned injection site since August.

They called on Mayor John Tory to publicly support additional
low-barrier injection sites, instruct police to stop attending
overdose calls to reduce the fear of arrest, support the
decriminalization of drugs and open armouries as emergency shelter.

Don Peat, the mayor's spokesperson, said Tory is "deeply concerned
about the overdose crisis facing the city and is committed to
preventing further deaths. As the mayor has said before, every
overdose death in our city is a tragedy and is preventable," Peat
wrote in an email.

The city's response plan to date has included training for more than
2,000 front line city staff in overdose prevention. That includes
public library staff and shelter staff and training has begun with TTC

The city has opened safe-injection sites, at Victoria and Dundas Sts.
and the South Riverdale Community Health Centre, near Carlaw Ave. A
third site at Queen St. W and Bathurst St. is expected to open soon.

In Moss Park, as of Nov. 30, the team had supervised almost 2,940
injections and stopped or reversed 115 overdoses - including 46 using
Naloxone - according to organizers.

The site started as a collection of tents. In November, the Canadian
Union of Public Employees Ontario donated a trailer and the province's
Emergency Medical Assistance Team also set up an insulated tent.
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MAP posted-by: Matt