Rest in Peace Bud Osborn, the “voice for the Downtown Eastside”

Love and respect to our dear friend and hero Bud Osborn.

“OVERDOSE DEATHS IN the Downtown Eastside had reached epidemic levels when activist and poet Bud Osborn flew to Ottawa with MP Libby Davies to advocate for a supervised injection site.

After meeting with then health minister Allan Rock, Osborn returned to tell community members and drug users about his discussion.

“This was a huge shift for people who were despised to hear that one of their own had done this, was in Ottawa and that the MP was there,” recalled Ann Livingston, who worked with Osborn to found the Vancouver Area Network of Drug users.

“They were relegated to humanness, which they did not have,” she told the Straight by phone. “They were not viewed as human beings.”

Osborn, who died Tuesday (May 6) after being hospitalized for pneumonia and a heart condition, also pushed for the Vancouver/Richmond Health Board to declare a public health emergency in 1997, a move that helped pave the way for the establishment of Insite.

“We saw a real change in the policy around needle exchange, and we saw the persistent discussion for injection sites as being the only way around this horrible problem with overdose and the spread of bloodborne pathogens,” said Livingston.

Davies, a close friend of the poet who worked with him for 20 years, said Osborn has been “a hero in the Downtown Eastside”.


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