The REDUN tree in downtown Trail is by the Family Statue on Victoria Street just before the bridge. Photo: Submitted

The REDUN tree in downtown Trail is by the Family Statue on Victoria Street just before the bridge. Photo: Submitted

Christmas tree reflects on 1,548 B.C. lives lost to overdose in 2020

West Kootenay members of REDUN join groups across the province this week in putting up Christmas trees, decorated with love to memorialize family and friends who are not with us this holiday season.

COVID-19 has proven to exacerbate the ongoing opioid epidemic, with 2020 seeing unprecedented overdose fatalities across the country.

A toxic drug supply and isolation is a dangerous combination.

Thousands of Canadian families will be grieving lost loved ones this holiday season.

“We have lost too many to the drug war and hope this memorial will raise awareness,” says West Kootenay REDUN. “We need your help to end the overdose crisis. Join us in demanding that the federal and provincial governments in Canada take immediate action to end the war on people who use drugs by implementing safe supply, decriminalizing personal possession, and improving access to evidence-based treatment options,” the group said.

“We invite you to add an ornament to the tree located across the street from the Trail Memorial Centre to commemorate those lost to overdose.”

REDUN asks all who hang ornaments, or pause for reflection at the tree, to maintain physical distancing of at least six feet/two metres.

“Recognizing that the holiday season can be a difficult time for many, we strongly encourage everyone to stay safe,” REDUN advises. “Get your drugs checked. Carry Naloxone. Do not use alone. Check on your friends in recovery. Reach out if you need support.”

An average of five people die of overdose every day in B.C., most as a result of using alone.

The Kootenay Boundary region has seen 16 suspected drug toxicity deaths to date this year, 11 of those attributed to fentanyl.

This number is nearing the highest number of overdose deaths recorded in the Kootenay Boundary since 2017. That year, 17 people died of overdose.

Provincially, overdose has claimed the lives of 1,548 British Columbians in 2020 so far – 153 of those in November.

“Tragically as we end 2020, our province is facing a record-breaking number for lives lost due to a toxic illicit drug supply,” said chief coroner Lisa Lapointe. “In the five years of this public health emergency, more than 6,500 families have experienced the grief and sadness of losing a loved one to the challenging medical condition of drug addiction. I extend my sincere condolences to all of those grieving a family member, friend or colleague due to this disease.”

REDUN (Rural Empowered Drug Users Network) provides peer-to-peer support, education and advocacy by and for people with lived or living experience of illicit substance use in the Kootenay Boundary region.

opioid epidemic

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Trail Smoke Eaters fell 6-1 to the Penticton Vees on Sunday, their third loss to the perennial BCHL powerhouse six games into the 20-game season. Photo: Stephen Piccolo
Penticton Vees dominant in win over Trail Smoke Eaters

Trail Smoke Eaters enjoy two day break until their fourth meeting with Penticton Vees on Wednesday

Kalesnikoff Lumber will be providing materials for a 21-storey apartment building in Vancouver. Rendering: Henriquez Partners Architects
Kalesnikoff supplying mass timber for several major projects

The West Kootenay lumber company will be making the products at South Slocan facility

This painting is a piece from Young Visions 2021, opening April 22 at the Kootenay Gallery. Photo: S. Painter
Showcase of artwork by Kootenay Columbia students opens April 22

Young Visions 2021 runs April 22 to May 29 in the Kootenay Gallery of Art, Castlegar

Selkirk College has received provincial funding to assist students. File photo
Selkirk College receives funding to assist students

Provincial funding is available to West Kootenay students

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Part of the massive mess left behind in a Spallumcheen rental home owned by Wes Burden, whose tenants bolted from the property in the middle of the night. Burden is now facing a hefty cleaning and repair bill as a result. (Photo submitted)
Tenants disappear in the night leaving Okanagan home trashed with junk, feces

Spallumcheen rental rooms filled with junk, human and animal feces; landlord scared to rent again

Parliament Hill is viewed below a Canada flag in Gatineau, Quebec, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians are feeling more grateful for what they have in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly in 2019: report

2019 report shows Canada emitted about one million tonnes more of these gases than the previous year

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to register people ages 40+ for COVID-19 vaccines in April

Appointments are currently being booked for people ages 66 and up

Interior Health improves access to mental health supports amid COVID-19 pandemic. (Stock)
Interior Health connects people to mental health resources amid COVID

310-MHSU line receives positive feedback in early months of rollout

A volunteer disinfects a historical Mohabat Khan mosque ahead of the upcoming Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Friday, April 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad)
For Canadian Muslims, second pandemic Ramadan is a time of hope and sadness

Many members of the association are trying to find ways ‘to help people stay connected to one another’

Most Read