Downtown Eastside activist and poet Bud Osborn has died

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Photo: taratoesen

rabble.ca is saddened to learn of the death of Bud Osborn. Osborn was a founding member of Vancouver Area Network of Drugs Users (VANDU), a group of users and former users who work to improve the lives of people who use illicit drugs through user-based peer support and education.

His work with VANDU led to the creation of North America's first supervised injection site in Vancouver, and continued through legal challenges to laws affecting controlled substances and their users.

In 2009, Osborn co-edited a book that told the story of the Downtown East Side through poetry and stories chronicling the harms of prohibition, as well as resistance, hope, kindness, awakening and collective action. It was called Raise Shit.

In 2008, Osborn performed one of his poems during the introduction to the documentary film called Down Here. Here is a video of Bud Osborne, delivering his poem "Sunshine."

Osborn was also a celebrated poet with several books to his name. His poetry is marked by an emphasis on place, multi-vocality and a violent language that reflects the lived experience of poverty, addiction and struggle. "so here i am / here we are," reads the first two lines of "Amazingly Alive," the first poem in hundred block rock (Arsenal Press, 1999), his most widely read work. His writing bears witness -- with a characteristic humility -- to the strength of community and power of collective action.

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