Nelson rally calls for more action on anniversary of BC toxic drug crisis
Concerned citizens, families of loved ones and advocates rallied Friday afternoon in front of Nelson City Hall to raise awareness of all the lives lost during the past seven years to illicit toxic drugs.
The rally, organized by Rural Empowered Drug Users Network (REDUN), marked the seventh anniversary of a public health emergency declared in BC after overdose deaths reached extraordinary numbers.
Since the public health emergency was declared, more than 11,000 people in BC have lost their lives due to illicit toxic drugs.
“We Care! Remember our fallen, Safe Spaces Save Lives!,” was the message on one of the signs carried during Friday’s rally as supporters marked seven years of government inaction.
“End Stigma,” was another message displayed on a sign carried during the rally.
In 2022, more than 2,000 lives were lost in BC due drug overdoses.
In March 2023, the BC Emergency Health Services recorded an average of 119.9 overdoses a day, the highest 30-day average ever recorded.
As well, on March 22, 2023, paramedics responded to more than 205 drug assistance calls, setting a new single-day record.
Friday in Nelson, one of many rallies throughout the province, speakers talked about the rural work being done at the local level.
Speakers commended the work that is very progressive but emphasized the need for more support regarding the drug crisis that remain ongoing with ongoing deaths.
They also noted the fact that Nelson has an Overdose Prevention Site, which has been a benefit for the community and really helps keep people safe.
The site also reduces the visibility of drug use issues in Nelson.
“But overall safer supply is needed here, better access to safe supply options to keep people off the toxic drug supply and give people a chance to stabilize,” said organizers.
The rally also recognized the work of REDUN and ANKORS (AIDS Network Kootenay Outreach and Support Society).
Both groups focus on outreach and care to the most marginalized local populations and provide Episodic Overdose Prevention services (EOPS) on weekends and during check week as well.
Toxic drugs continue to plague the province.
Thursday, Interior Health issued a Drug Alert for the entire Interior Health Authority after Cocaine containing Fentanyl was believed to be causing a high risk of fatal overdoses.
. . . Remember Our Fallen . . . — Photo courtesy Tiffany Teal
Nelson's rally was one of many held throughout BC. — Photo courtesy Holly Trider