Communities around the world will be marking International Overdose Day at the end of this month, and in Quesnel, two events are planned for Saturday, Aug. 31.
The Coalition of Substance Users of the North (CSUN) will be hosting an awareness and education event Aug. 31 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Front Street side of the Fraser River footbridge.
Charlene Burmeister, president and founder of CSUN, says they will have a mock Overdose Prevention Site, and there will be training for and distribution of take home naloxone kits. Naloxone can quickly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. According to Health Link B.C., naloxone binds to the same receptors in the brain as opioids, and when naloxone is given, it pushes the opioid from the receptor to restore a normal breathing rate. Naloxone can reverse slowed breathing within three to five minutes.
As well, community speakers will be sharing their experiences throughout the duration of the event, and there will be food and refreshments available.
“We invite community members for a respectful engagement,” said Burmeister. “We’ll have opportunities to discuss current events with regard to the overdose crisis.”
A memorial display will also be set up near the footbridge.
CSUN invites community members to join them in a moment of silence and reflection at noon. CSUN will offer a flower to those impacted by overdose, which will be released off of the Fraser River footbridge in honour of those lost.
International Overdose Awareness Day is a global event held each year on Aug. 31, which aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of drug-related death, according to the International Overdose Awareness Day website. This day also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have died or had a permanent injury as a result of drug overdose, and spreads the message that the tragedy of overdose death is preventable.
“I think the importance around this event is to shine a light on the fact that current drug policy and the poisoned drug market is killing our community members, friends and families,” said Burmeister. “We demand safe supply, decriminalization and drug policy change at the local, provincial and national levels.”
It has been three years since Dr. Perry Kendall, the provincial Medical Health Officer, declared a public health emergency under the Public Health Act on April 14, 2016, in response to increasing overdoses and overdose deaths in our province.
At the time the public health emergency was announced, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control stated that illicit drug deaths in B.C. have increased each year since 2012 and, by mid–2015, provincial rates of illicit drug deaths surpassed those seen in 1997–98 when a public health emergency in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside was declared in response to an epidemic in HIV infection rates and illicit drug fatalities.
For more information about CSUN or its event, call 250-991-0091.
For International Overdose Awareness Day, the Wild Women of the North Society is hosting an event in memory of all those who have lost their lives to overdose Saturday, Aug. 31 from noon to 6 p.m. at LeBourdais Park.
There will be live entertainment and free food, and naloxone and training to administer it will be provided.
Gail Rutledge will be on-site to provide trauma counselling, and the society’s members who are trained in suicide talk and psychological first aid will be on-site as well.
The Wild Women of the North Society is hoping to include as many agencies and organizations with information about harm reduction and recovery at the event as possible to provide information about their services and the requirements to access those services.
For more information about the Wild Women of the North Society event, email email@example.com or call 250-983-9669.