Communities across B.C. and around the world are coming together at the end of August to remember those who have died or suffered permanent injury due to the toxic drug supply.
Locally, the Trail Community Action Team (TCAT) hosted an information booth at the downtown Trail market on Saturday.
As well, in recognition of International Overdose Awareness Day (Aug. 31), the City of Trail will light the bridge in purple, the colour used to mark the toxic drug epidemic.
TCAT says since the B.C. government declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency in 2016, 157 people have died of toxic drugs in Kootenay-Boundary, 28 of them in Trail.
Across Canada, almost 40,000 people have died from toxic drugs since January of 2016. In the past year, an average 20 deaths per day occurred, up from 10 per day in 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For each of these deaths, there are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and friends who have suffered and continue to suffer the loss of their loved one,” notes Tammy McLean, nurse practitioner and TCAT member.
TCAT is also honouring those people who may be unseen, but whose lives have been irrevocably changed by toxic drugs.
They are the outreach and shelter workers, the healthcare and support providers, first responders, and bystanders, friends and family members who extend their strength and compassion to people who use drugs, and often are the ones who selflessly save lives on a regular basis.
“Theirs are the voices we should amplify, and their strength and experience should be held up as examples to us all,” says Diana Daghofer, TCAT co-chair.” Too often, however, they are left to bear the burden of this crisis alone and in silence.”
Observed on Aug. 31 every year, the awareness day seeks to create better understanding of drug toxicity, reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths, and create change that reduces the harms associated with drug use.
By holding an event this year, the people of Trail join a global movement for understanding, compassion and change.
International Overdose Awareness Day is convened by Penington Institute, an Australian non-profit.
A full list of 2023 events planned around the world can be found at: overdoseday.com.