In British Columbia, toxic drug policy kills almost six people every single day.
Between January 2016 and December 2020 over 21,174 Canadians died due to substance use related harms. The local Community Action Team (CAT) is recognizing these lives and providing information on the opioid crisis through a number of events on and leading up to International Overdose Awareness Day on Tuesday, Aug.31.
“Tragically, all of these deaths were preventable,” said Kristen Bird, a nursing instructor and member of the Trail Community Action Team (CAT).
“Less than 4 per cent of the approximately 90,000 people at risk of drug poisoning in BC have access to a safe supply.”
The Trail CAT is made up of health professionals, people with lived/living experience, service providers and youth advocating and taking action to save lives and change drug policies – changes needed to end these deaths.
Purple and silver are the colours associated with overdose awareness. Residents will see purple ribbons lining major streets in Rossland and Trail, with posters highlighting key points in the current opioid public health emergency, declared as such in BC in April 2016.
On Aug. 31, the Trail bridge will be lit in purple and an interactive educational kiosk at the Cenotaph (Pine Avenue) will provide information about Substance Use Disorder, while commemorating the lives of at least 30 people lost in the Kootenay Boundary in the last year.
Members of the Trail CAT will provide options for training in the use of naloxone, a drug which blocks the effects of opioids such as fentanyl, oxycodone and hydrocodone. Naloxone and CPR can help restore normal breathing to a person whose breathing has shallowed or stopped as a result of an overdose.
People can also participate by tuning into a LIVE STREAM Facebook Candlelight Vigil taking place on Aug. 31 at 6:30 p.m., organized by Moms Stop the Harm (MSTH).
The vigil will be an evening of music and words of remembrance featuring guest speakers: Lisa Lapointe, BC Coroner, Dr. Jennifer Charlesworth, BC Representative for Children and Youth, and Leslie McBain, Co-Founder of MSTH.
Go to the Moms Stop the Harm Facebook page to livestream this special event.
“Opioid use affects a broad swath of society,” encourages Diana Daghofer of Moms Stop the Harm. “Please invite your family and friends within your bubble to watch the vigil and bring this crisis into the open to help fight the stigma that is causing the deaths of our loved ones.”
Trail CAT is made up of members of Moms Stop the Harm, ANKORS, REDUN, Career Development Services, and local citizens and youth.
International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) was initiated in 2001 by Sally J Finn in Melbourne, Australia. It has gone on to become the world’s largest annual campaign to end overdose, remembering without stigma those who have died and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind.