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B.C. Mother Launches Marathon Across B.C. to Raise Awareness about Toxic Drug Deaths, Increase Access to a Safe Supply of Drugs

By Contributor
May 23rd, 2023

Sunday, Jessica Michalofsky kicked off a marathon that will take her across B.C. to raise awareness about preventable toxic drug deaths and

advocate for safe supply.

From May 21 to June 25, Michalofsky will run more than 900 km from Nelson to Victoria as part of “Aubrey’s Run Across B.C. to End Toxic Drug Death,” passing through the Okanagan and stopping in communities for rallies and events along the way.

She is running in memory of her son Aubrey, who died from toxic drug poisoning on August 30, 2022. Her initiative comes as death by illicit drug poisoning becomes the leading cause of death in British Columbians age 10-59.

"My message is that toxic drug death is preventable," says Michalofsky.

"This marathon is not just about my son Aubrey, but about all the lives that have been lost and all the families that have been devastated by toxic drug poisoning. It's about the preservation of life and the belief that we can do better."

Last winter, Michalofsky ran more than 900 km around the BC Ministry of Health building in Victoria as an expression of her grief, and in protest of the government's slow action to stop drug deaths. Now she is taking her run and her message across the province, connecting with people affected by this crisis and calling for action. Her events will raise awareness about the danger of criminalized drugs, and unite communities in taking action for safe supply.

Safe supply is a harm-reduction measure that aims to stop the deaths caused by the unregulated, unpredictable illicit drug supply.

“Safe Supply is a necessary, humane and logical response that can no longer be ignored,” says Leslie McBain, Co-Founder of Moms Stop the Harm, a network of Canadian families impacted by substance-use-related harms and deaths.

Michalofsky sees safe supply as a key resource in a spectrum of options available to people who use drugs. “Those who polarise the issue and paint harm-reduction measures, like safer supply, as being in opposition to recovery miss the point," says Michalofsky.

"We need both, in order to save lives and support people to thrive. Toxic drug poisoning doesn't just affect people living with addictions. Anyone who uses criminalized drugs is at risk."

Michalofsky’s month-long journey kicked off in Nelson this morning with a community rally and run, organized in partnership with Kootenay Insurrection for Safe Supply (KISS), Rural Empowered Drug Users Network (REDUN), ANKORS, and the Nelson Fentanyl Task Force, with support from Moms Stop the Harm and the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition.

The location is significant, as Jessica’s son Aubrey Michalofsky lived just outside Nelson in the community of Beasley when he died last summer. Jessica is partnering with local organizations and community members in each town she stops, to connect with those affected by drug poisoning, offer locally-relevant resources, and unite communities in taking action for safe supply and supports.

"Death by toxic drug poisoning is not just a big city problem. Rural, First Nations, and small-town British Columbians are especially hard-hit because they lack access to services and resources," added Michalofsky. "For many British Columbians, a pharmacy or doctor's office might be hours away, and public transportation is either inadequate or completely lacking."

“The West Kootenays has been deeply affected by the toxic drug crisis – we’ve lost sons, parents, neighbours, dear friends…it’s too much,” says Daun Hume, Steering Committee Member for Rural Empowered Drug Users Network.

“Because we’re more geographically spread out, we need to implement creative solutions that work for our context. Community organizations here are working hard to do that, and we need all the people who care to step up and show their support.”

Michalofsky's marathon across British Columbia is a call to action for the public to come together and demand change.

“We cannot continue to rely on drug prohibition, which has proven futile. We need to recognize that toxic drug death is preventable and safe supply is a necessary solution: all that remains is to effectively implement it. I'm doing this for my son, Aubrey, and for everyone who loves someone or is someone who uses drugs.”“

For more information and updates, follow Michalofsky on Facebook and Instagram.

Donations to support Aubrey’s Run can be made on a GoFundMe page set up by Moms Stop the Harm.

Jessica Michalofsky begins the long run to Victoria as part of “Aubrey’s Run Across B.C. to End Toxic Drug Death".

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