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Supporters march in solidarity after arrests of Vancouver safe drug supply advocates

VANCOUVER — Advocates for a safe drug supply gathered in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside to denounce the recent arrests of the founders of the Drug User Liberation Front. 

The Vancouver Police Department raided the group’s office and arrested its co-founders, Eris Nyx and Jeremy Kalicum, last week, saying the organization had publicly admitted to trafficking illegal drugs. 

Those at the rally and march say the group’s work saved lives by supporting drug users with safe substances instead of forcing them into the illicit market that has claimed thousands of lives in B.C. 

Leslie McBain with the group Moms Stop the Harm says the group was doing work that should be done by government, but it had to resort to civil disobedience as people continue to die from toxic drug consumption. 

McBain, who lost her only child to an overdose, says policymakers have been slow to take the kind of action needed to keep parents like her from losing more loved ones. 

Before the mass of hundreds marched, former city councillor Jean Swanson told the crowd that founders of the liberation front were motivated to save lives “because they’ve seen too many deaths.” 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 3, 2023. 

The Canadian Press