Arts and sharps

Decorating disposal bins a gift to community

Chance Dupuis, community well-being co-ordinator at Central Neighbourhoods Winnipeg, stresses the importance of safe options for needle disposal.

Photo by Keeley Braunstein-Black

Community organizations are coming together to make needle disposal beautiful. A drop-in art event is being held at ArtsJunktion, a community arts centre located in the Exchange District.

Participants will have the opportunity to decorate needle disposal bins for personal and public use. The bins will be given out to local community organizations and patrols, and participants will also be able to take them home for personal use.

“We are showing our community that we love them through art,” Chance Dupuis, community well-being co-ordinator at Central Neighbourhoods Winnipeg, says. “It gives people a space to come and do art for free and have something beautiful to bring home with them or have something beautiful to create for the community that they know will be put to use. It is like a love letter through art. It is a love letter to our community (and is) a tag-team with Overdose Awareness Manitoba and 13 Moons.”

“There (are) also going to be some harm reduction presentations,” Arlene Last-Kolb, co-leader of Overdose Awareness Manitoba, says. “(My co-leader) and I will talk about our group and a little bit about our experiences (as mothers whose children have died following overdoses),” as well as the support Overdose Awareness Manitoba provides.

Dupuis says the all-ages event is for “anyone in the neighbourhood who is interested in learning more about needle disposal, needle pickup and harm-reduction initiatives in the community, (but also for) anyone who just wants to do art.”

“People seem to be afraid of (needle disposal bins). We want to encourage people to use them. There are not enough of them. They should be everywhere. They should look great and should have messages of hope on them,” Last-Kolb says. “I want to have people say ‘have you seen the drop box in River Heights? It’s really beautiful!’”

Dupuis hopes that by decorating these bins, they will change the narrative around substance use.

“The best way to communicate with people is through art,” Dupuis says. “A lot of artists fight stigma and stereotypes through art. So we figured that it would be the best way to combat something that people find really scary, (but bins are) just a place you would put recycling or garbage. It is just a container specifically for (used needles).”

Dupuis says Arts and Sharps is intended to provide “a different narrative, because we’ve only heard one side for so long of just crappy fear-mongering. It is a way of saying ‘that is not how we think of you. That’s not how we all think of you.’”

Arts and Sharps will be held at ArtsJunktion (312 William Ave.) on Feb. 28 at 7 p.m.

Published in Volume 74, Number 17 of The Uniter (February 6, 2020)

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