Talking prescription heroin in the suburbs

I lived the first 21 years of my life in Maple Ridge, an hour east of Vancouver.

The first person I ever met with a heroin addiction lived in Maple Ridge.
The first person I knew who went to prison for a drug offence was arrested in Maple Ridge.
The first person I knew who was living with HIV was diagnosed in Maple Ridge.
The first person I ever knew who suffered a fatal overdose died in Maple Ridge.

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The fight for sex workers’ rights is not over - make your voice heard

The Supreme Court of Canada’s decision to strike down three of Canada’s harmful prostitution laws marked an incredible moment for human rights in Canada. However, the battle for safety and dignity for sex workers is far from over. The Supreme Court’s ruling included a 12-month window for Parliament to decide whether to enact new laws that criminalize adult prostitution.

The Federal government has indicated that they intend to introduce new criminal laws and will do so quickly. After decades of grassroots struggle, and seven years in the courts, the hard work of the sex workers’ rights movement could be undone if the proposed law re-criminalizes sex work. It is no wonder that members of the movement are describing this next phase as the “fight of our lives.”

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Mandatory minimum sentence a cruel and unusual punishment

In 2012, the Safe Streets and Communities Act was passed into law as part of the Conservative government’s tough-on-crime agenda. Among other things, the SSCA amended the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to impose mandatory minimum sentences on those convicted of certain drug-related offences. Though the Conservatives said these provisions were targeted towards high-level drug traffickers, Pivot Legal Society predicted that they would in reality be more likely to affect small-time drug users, people with addictions or mental health issues, and Aboriginal people. Pivot also predicted that the amendments may run afoul of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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Canada v. Bedford – The decision in 705 words

Today the Supreme Court of Canada delivered a landmark unanimous decision in the case of Attorney General of Canada v. Terri Jean Bedford, Amy Lebovitch and Valerie Scott. Canada’s highest court has ruled that three provisions of Canada’s Criminal Code, s. 210 (keeping or being found in a bawdy house), s. 212(1)(j) (living on the avails of prostitution), and s. 213(1)(c) (communicating in public for the purpose of prostitution) violate the s. 7 right to security of the person protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. All three laws have been struck down.

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Rights of Mothers and Babies Affirmed by BC Supreme Court

On Monday morning, the BC Supreme Court released a decision that is an important victory for the Charter rights of provincially incarcerated women and their children. Justice Ross’ key conclusion was that cancelling a program at the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women (ACCW) that allowed babies to remain with their incarcerated mothers was unconstitutional. She found that the cancellation violated the equality and liberty rights of both the babies and their mothers, and that the decision was not justified, but was “arbitrary, overbroad and grossly disproportionate and therefore contrary to the principles of fundamental justice”.

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Fight homelessness, not people without homes

UPDATE: Judge rules Abbotsford homeless camp must tear down tents by Saturday afternoon

A Supreme Court Judge in New Westminster has granted the City of Abbotsford an injunction, requiring the residents of the Jubilee Park homeless camp to take down their tents and leave the City's property by 4:00 PM, December 21st. Five days before Christmas, and in the midst of the lower mainland's largest snowstorm of the year, Pivot's clients are being told they need to leave the park, yet still have no place to go. The City of Abbotsford was able to convince the Judge that other options for shelter exist, such as the Salvation Army Centre of Hope homeless shelter, but many of the homeless campers maintain they are not welcome at this location and others because of the barriers the private operators put in place. 

DJ Larkin, who represents the group of homeless men and women, will now begin work gathering evidence to show that many of them will not be able to access shelter, in the hopes of getting the order overturned. 

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Asking for Help Will Cost You

Shawn Cossaboom is a panhandler. Positioned to the north of the entrance to Safeway on Commercial and Broadway, he is a regular guy with a regular spot. He also has a philosophy: If you bother people or get in their way, they won't offer up a helping hand. The best way to panhandle is to do so in silence, with a sign, a book, and the company of a dog.

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Pivot's Fall Interns: Redefining Awesome

Fall is one of my favorite seasons. Leaves are turning colour, bugs are dying by the truckload, and we have a new crew of interns.

 What is it they do? Redefine awesome, that’s what.

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Hope in Shadows: Community, Connection, Opportunity

It is nearly one month since the release of the 2014 Hope in Shadows calendar, and already, 150 Official Hope in Shadows calendar vendors are trained, licensed, and working on the streets of Vancouver and North Vancouver.

Each new vendor receives a vendor badge, license, and one free starter calendar, which they sell to customers for $20. After that, vendors buy each calendar for $10 and sell it for $20, keeping the money earned from every sale. The vendors bring the entire Hope in Shadows project together - community, connection, and opportunity. 

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Paying up – What a wonderful way for Wolsey to say he’s sorry

The ongoing saga surrounding landlord George Wolsey and the search for justice for his former tenants is marked by a series of successes and setbacks. In September, former residents of the Wonder Rooms Hotel were elated when, after plastering the DTES and local media with Wanted posters, Wolsey succumbed and turned himself into the court. As a result of those efforts, Wolsey was ordered to appear at a payment hearing at the Provincial Court of British Columbia on October 21, 2013. What happened at that hearing, however, is a sign that the fight is nowhere near over.

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I lived the first 21 years of my life in Maple Ridge, an hour east of Vancouver. The first person...
The Supreme Court of Canada’s decision to strike down three of Canada’s harmful prostitution laws marked an incredible moment for...
In 2012, the Safe Streets and Communities Act was passed into law as part of the Conservative government’s tough-on-crime agenda....
Today the Supreme Court of Canada delivered a landmark unanimous decision in the case of Attorney General of Canada v....