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Local group marks international Overdose Awareness Day in Cranbrook

An event took place to mark International Overdose Awareness Day and honour those who died from drug poisoning.

The event was organized by the East Kootenay Network of People Who Use Drugs (EKNPUD) and ANKORS and took place on August 31st, 2021 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Jessica Lamb, ANKORS and Peer Coordinator for EKNPUD said the event is to remember all the people affected by substance use and those who have died from it.

“Today is about healing because it’s been a very tough year for the overdose crisis. It’s been five years since the start of the public health emergency was declared in 2016 and we’ve lost over 7,000 people. We’re on the same rate this year to outdo the numbers from last year and it’s about raising awareness for our community.”

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Drug death across the province have been steadily rising over the years with 159 British Columbians dying from drug toxicity in June alone.

MORE: Drug toxicity becomes number one cause of death for 19 to 39 years old in B.C. (August 31st, 2021)

Patrick Evans, Executive Director and Project Coordinator for EKNPUD said people need to start talking about the problem and find solutions.

“We’re in the middle of an ongoing drug poisoning crisis and we’re here to raise awareness in the community to start a conversation about solutions to this crisis. It’s a memorial because we’ve lost a lot of members of our organization as well as community members to preventable deaths.”

“Today is really about remembering the people who passed and their families. I think about all the kids who are growing up without parents right now because of this overdose crisis,” added Lamb.

Evans said the government needs to change its policies and create a safer stream for people addicted to substances.

“My drug of choice is criminalized, so luckily I’m on a safe supply. Luckily I have access to opioid agonist therapy and that keeps me able and functional, a lot of people don’t have the privilege or ability to access those services and they’re forced to access the street supply.”

The event featured drug checking by ANKORS, Naloxone training, community resources and a memorial for the lives lost.

“In our community people have been really motivated to bring their substances into ANKORS to get them checked. We are getting ahead of the curve thankfully, but for a long time it was hearing about someone who overdosed,” said Lamb.

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