Over­dose vic­tims re­mem­bered

Spe­cial events be­ing planned across B.C.

The Province - - NEWS - NICK EAGLAND neagland@post­media.com twit­ter.com/nick­eagland

Drug-users and their loved ones will ob­serve In­ter­na­tional Over­dose Aware­ness Day at solemn events Thurs­day across B.C. as a fen­tanyl-re­lated, public-health emer­gency shows lit­tle sign of slow­ing down.

In the first half of 2017, 780 peo­ple died of an il­licit-drug over­dose death in B.C., com­pared with 414 dur­ing the same pe­riod last year, when there were a to­tal of 978 deaths in 2016, ac­cord­ing to a B.C. Coro­ners Ser­vice re­port last month.

Mean­while, first-re­spon­ders are strained by a surge in over­dose re­sponses across the province.

Thurs­day, at noon, in Van­cou­ver’s Down­town East­side, the Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion of Peo- ple Who Use Drugs (CAPUD) — along with Cul­ture Saves Lives, the Van­cou­ver Area Net­work of Drug Users and the Western Abo­rig­i­nal Harm Re­duc­tion So­ci­ety — will host an event at 58 West Hast­ings St.

“We want to fo­cus on the very cru­cial role that peo­ple who use drugs play in end­ing the over­dose epi­demic, and how our gov­ern­ment needs to rec­og­nize that through the peo­ple who use drugs — and their em­pow­er­ment — we will get close to end­ing this thing or re­duc­ing a whole lot of over­dose deaths,” said CAPUD pres­i­dent Jor­dan West­fall.

West­fall said he be­lieves gov­ern­ment is start­ing to pay at­ten­tion to groups like his and their ef­forts to ex­pand ac­cess to over­dose preven­tion sites, though the gov­ern­ment’s work with drug-users is “not near- ly enough” to have an im­pact, he added.

Ahead of the event, its or­ga­niz­ers dis­trib­uted four sec­tions of a can­vas heart to places in Van­cou­ver where drug-users gather, so that they can sign it with the names of loved ones lost to drugs, West­fall said. The heart will be mailed to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

In Vic­to­ria, an event will be held at Cen­ten­nial Square.

From 4:30-6 p.m. at­ten­dees can re­ceive a free, over­dose-re­vers­ing nalox­one kit and learn how to use it. A rally will fol­low at 6 p.m., fea­tur­ing live music and speak­ers, as well as a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. to re­mem­ber the thou­sands of peo­ple lost to over­doses in B.C.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.