Data re­veal First Na­tions in B.C. three times more likely to fa­tally over­dose

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA - BY CAMILLE BAINS

First Na­tions in British Co­lum­bia are three time more likely to die of il­licit drug over­doses but data re­leased Thurs­day are a year old and don’t cover the pe­riod when deaths in­creased sub­stan­tially provincewide.

Pre­lim­i­nary find­ings re­veal 60 First Na­tions peo­ple fa­tally over­dosed be­tween Jan­uary 2015 to July 2016 though the death toll is be­lieved to be higher be­cause the num­bers ex­clude peo­ple who did not reg­is­ter as sta­tus In­di­ans or those who are Inuit and Metis.

Dr. Shan­non McDon­ald, deputy chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer of the First Na­tions Health Author­ity, said First Na­tions make up 3.4 per cent of B.C.’s pop­u­la­tion but 10 per cent of the prov­ince’s over­dose deaths.

“We rec­og­nize the root cause of where we are to­day, and that root cause rests in col­o­niza­tion, dis­place­ment, con­nec­tion that has been bro­ken,” McDon­ald told a news con­fer­ence.

“That dis­con­nec­tion from cul­ture, fam­ily and com­mu­nity is ex­tremely im­por­tant.”

First Na­tions peo­ple were also five times more likely than their non-First Na­tions coun­ter­parts to over­dose dur­ing that time pe­riod, McDon­ald said.

She said the lim­ited in­for­ma­tion, which has been com­piled since June 2016, will help iden­tify emerg­ing trends to sup­port com­mu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing those in ru­ral and re­mote ar­eas that lack re­li­able 911 ac­cess and ba­sic health ser­vices.

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