Bud Osborn memorial sees Insite founder remembered for fighting the good fight

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A few little-known facts about the late Downtown Eastside poet Bud Osborn were revealed at his public memorial in the 100 block of East Hastings today (May 16).

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Among them was that Osbornwho passed away on May 6enjoyed car rides up through West Vancouver’s swanky British Properties as a means of escaping calls from media. He once held a series of writing workshops in the fire escape of the old Portland Hotel. And Osborn, a passionate activist always in touch with the streets, was more of a sports fan than many friends might have guessed.

Those sorts of stories attracted laughter from the crowd gathered outside Insite, North America’s only sanctioned supervised injection facility, of which Osborn was a cofounder.

Libby Davies, NDP MP for Vancouver East, was an old friend of Bud Osborn's.
Travis Lupick

One of the first speakers was Vancouver East MP Libby Davies, an old friend of Osborn’s who helped him navigate political battles inherent in the sorts of controversial projects Osborn fought.

“Bud Osborn was an extraordinary leader and activist in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside,” Davies said. “Bud was a critical part of the struggle for the rights and dignity of drug users. He worked tirelessly for the opening of Insite. When times were dark and people felt hopeless, he gave us hope. When people felt that they had no voice, his poetry raised many voices and gave people courage. When people yearned for belonging and community, he led by example and united people in a common cause for human dignity and respect.”

Davies was the first of a number of speakers who noted Osborn’s vocal opposition to the gentrification of the Downtown Eastside.

“I know if Bud were here, he would be talking about unity,” she said. “This neighbourhood is under threat. It’s always been under threat....And so what we have to do today as we grieve the loss that we feel, is we do have to celebrate and we have to carry on the work that Bud began. Let’s do that with a sense of dignity and strength.”

Former Portland Hotel Society manager Liz Evans worked alongside Bud Osborn to see Insite founded in 2003.
Travis Lupick

Speaking next was former Portland Hotel Society manager Liz Evans, who worked alongside Osborn to see Insite officially founded in 2003.

“My favourite memory of sitting with Bud was at the Radio Station Café one morning,” Evans said. “A steady stream of people were coming in to say hi….We were there for three hours but the time just flew by. The reason it’s one of my favourite memories, is because during those three hours, Bud and I sat and reflected on the fact that in spite of everything that had happened, we could still sit here on the corner of Columbia and Hastings for three hours. That this community still exists. That we’ve overcome, over and over again. That the Downtown Eastside had fought off challenges, fought off extinction, and survived and thrived, against the interests of those who fail to see the love, the magic, and the beauty in this community. Bud was so proud of this simple victory. This space that was occupied against all odds.”

Flowers were placed over the door of Insite in celebration of the life of Bud Osborn, a cofounder of the supervised injection facility.
Travis Lupick

Another organization Osborn helped found many years ago now is the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users. That work was performed alongside Ann Livingston, among others.

Livingston spoke of Osborn’s skills as a writer and how he could use those gifts to help people feel better about themselves.

“He reassured them,” Livingston said. “That their terrible anguish, humiliation, their shame, their horrid families, their drug addiction, their sexual abuse, the fact that they had traded sex for drugsthings that people don’t want anyone to knowhe would say, ‘These are the exact things that you can say in poetry. And it creates beauty. It creates resistance, it creates pride, and it creates healing’.”

"Raise Shit", the name of a book that recounts the early days of harm reduction in Vancouver and which features many poems by Bud Osborn, was painted on a wall adjacent to the site where Osborn's memorial was held.
Travis Lupick
Comments (5) Add New Comment
Good Fight?
It's too bad junkies spend so much time fighting for their right to junk themselves up, rather than for good general welfare for everyone, welfare capable of purchasing adequate nutrition. Can anyone eat Canada Food Guide on welfare? Do the University grads working at insite care? It is a question of priorities. If addicted people are not given adequate nutrition, they will continue to abuse drugs to treat the symptoms of malnutrition. If they spent their junk-money on fruit, they would be much better off.
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Ray
"Insite, North America’s only sanctioned supervised injection facility". This is untrue. There is a similar facility across from St. Paul's Hospital at the Dr. Paul Centre.
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homelessdave0
GEORGIA STRAIGHT 'THAT WALL'(ON 100 BLOCK E HASTINGS OPPOSITE INSITE) THAT WAS PAINTED IN MEMORIAL OF BUD OSBORN IS THE CONSTRUCTION SITE FOR SEQUEL138 CONDOS WHICH OUR COMMUNITY OPPOSES.I GOT EVERY DTES RESIDENT GROUP+ TO CALL FOR THAT SITE TO BE 100% SOCIAL HOUSING RESIDENT CONTROLLED WITH ABORIGINAL HEALING & WELLNESS CENTRE-AS PART OF MY HUNGER STRIKE DEMANDS.

THAT MEMORIAL WALL OF COMMUNITY RESISTANCE PUT UP BY OUR COMMUNITY OF DREAMERS FOR EQUALITY DIGNITY JUSTICE & HOUSING MUST NOT BE ERASED BY DEVELOPER MARC WILLIAMS--THIS IS THE LIVING MEMORY BEAUTY & VIGIL OF THE DTES COMMUNITY.

IT WOULD BE AN INDIGNITY TO BUD OSBORN & DTES COMMUNITY FOR GENTRIFICATION DEVELOPER MARC WILLAMS TO ERASE THE WALL & ERECT THE SEQUEL 138 CONDOS ACROSS FROM INSITE. SEE MORE INFO HERE ON SEQUEL138 THE RESISTANCE STRIKES BACK

http://www.mediacoop.ca/story/vancouver-downtown-eastside-pantages-theat...
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Travis Lupick
@Ray, thanks for the comment. The injection facility at the Dr. Peter's Centre is not sanctioned by the federal government. They've applied for the same exemptions for which Insite receives approval each year. But the Dr. Peter's Centre has yet to receive approval for those exemption requests.
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Donald J. McGibbon
"Let boys want pleasure, and men
Struggle for power, and women perhaps for fame,
and the servile to serve a Leader and the duped to be duped.

Yours is not theirs." Robinson Jefferson

You fought the good fight, Bud, now is the time for us, your people, to fight from this time forward until the struggle is over, or the "Leaders" are all dead!

PER MARE TERRA QUOD AER NOS PROSPICIO
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