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