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Nelson’s International Overdose Awareness Day event

Contributor
By Contributor
September 2nd, 2022

An International Overdose Awareness Day event and vigil took place at Cottonwood Falls in Nelson on Wednesday,  August 31st.

The annual event is to honour loved ones who have died due to drug overdose and to raise awareness about the provincial overdose crisis.

More than 70 people attended.

People came in good spirits to raise awareness and learn more about the local response. Others came in grief, seeing far too many of their loved ones and clients dying over the last few years. Circle of Indigenous Nations Society brought their big drum and people joined in the ceremonial drumming and singing.

Brittny Anderson, MLA for Nelson-Creston, spoke at the event, citing her commitment to improved local services, and sharing her grief about recent overdoses in Nelson.

A community member spoke about her brother’s death due to overdose and the importance of the Moms Stop the Harm support groups. Someone shared a song.

Cheryl Dowden, Executive Director of ANKORS, spoke about the traumatic impact on local people, including workers, who are losing loved ones and clients to the toxic drug crisis.

Currently six people are dying each day in British Columbia due to toxic drug poisoning.

Mandy Root from Freedom Quest Youth Services Society reminded the crowd about the youth who are dying due to the toxic drug crisis and how we must do more to respond, and not allow our hearts to get hardened.

Amanda Erickson, facilitator of the Nelson Fentanyl Task Force, noted the integrated social service, healthcare, and community grassroots response in Nelson that helped to establish an Overdose Prevention Site at ANKORS several years ago.

There were education booths by local service providers and groups including Kootenay Boundary Supported Recovery, AXIS Family Resources (Withdrawal Management Program), ANKORS, the Rural Empowered Drug Users Network, Mental Health and Substance Use, the Kootenay Insurrection for Safe Supply, Circle of Indigenous Nations Society, Nelson Fentanyl Task Force, and Freedom Quest.

People learned how to administer Naloxone and save a life, how to use fentanyl test strips, how to get into detox and withdrawal, and about other local substance use services.

A mock inhalation Overdose Prevention Site (OPS) was set up to inform the community of the need for this kind of OPS. Inhalation overdose deaths continue to rise around the province at high rates, as cited in the last BC Coroner’s report.

According to the latest report from the BC Coroner's Service within the Interior Health region during the first five months of 2022 alone there were 149 drug toxicity deaths.

Despite the challenges, people at the event were committed to a compassionate and informed local public health response to the provincial overdose crisis.

International Overdose Awareness Day Op/Ed

Circle of Indigenous Nations Society brought their big drum and people joined in the ceremonial drumming and singing. — Karuna Erickson photo

Everyone attending the International Overdose Awareness Day event at Cottonwood Falls Park in Nelson were treated to ceremonial drumming and singing. — Karuna Erickson photo

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