Monica Paul, an elder from Nazko, keeps time while singing during Overdose Awareness Day ceremonies. Paul shared the story of her grandson, who died because of an overdose. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

Monica Paul, an elder from Nazko, keeps time while singing during Overdose Awareness Day ceremonies. Paul shared the story of her grandson, who died because of an overdose. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

CSUN hosts overdose awareness day in Quesnel

Crosses representing the lives lost due to overdose lined front street to mark the sombre occasion

Elders, survivors and users gathered near the Quesnel Riverwalk bridge on Monday, Aug. 31 to remember people lost to overdose, and advocate for action to reduce them.

Monica Paul is an Elder from Nazko. She offered a prayer, then shared her own story of overdose.

Paul’s grandson died from an overdose.

“I’d like to say words about the kids on the street – They need help, big time,” she said, addressing the crowd. “When you see a kid walking down the street with their head down, stop and talk to them… No matter who they are, tell them that you love them with all your heart.”

Paul said her grandson’s final words to her were, ‘I love you grandma.’

“I don’t want to see any more children go like my grandson did,” she said, crying. “I hope there is no mom or grandma who has to go through this anymore. Please, please, I’m asking – I’m begging, try to help those kids off the street.”

Overdose Awareness Day in Quesnel was organized by the Coalition of Substance Users of the North (CSUN). The Founder of CSUN, Charlene Burmeister, also shared at the event.

“We’re facing staggering numbers of overdose incidents and overdose rates,” she said. “It’s really important to recognize that our Indigenous community members are at alarming risk as well. The disproportionate effects on Indigenous people is something we can not ignore.”

Attendees marched up and down Front Street, which was adorned with crosses representing the lives lost to overdose. There was also harm reduction training and distribution.

“I call on our health authority to do better,” Burmeister said. “This unfortunate inertia that we’re stuck in while people continue to die, and there’s lack of action is infuriating.”

“It is unfortunate we have to gather here today in the face of an overdose crisis that has continued to escalate,” Burmeister said. “No tangible action has been taken, both provincially or federally.”

In July, B.C. paramedics responded to more than 2,700 suspected overdose calls – roughly 87 per day. Through six months, 728 people in the province died from an overdose, a drastic increase from 543 during the same period in 2019.

The event was capped off with a flower drop from the riverwalk bridge.

READ MORE: B.C. paramedics responded to a record-breaking 2,700 overdose calls in July

READ MORE: New study calls for new approach to tackling overdose crisis

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

overdoseoverdose crisis

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Quesnel RCMP Detachment is one of seven northern police buildings which can now connect directly to Prince George for daily bail hearings. (Observer File Photo)
Bail hearings going virtual in B.C.’s north

A court pilot project will see virtual courtroom cameras set up in seven RCMP detatchments

The proposed renovations at the Quesnel Rec Centre. (CRD Drawing)
CRD approves Quesnel pool referendum date

Voters will be asked to approve borrowing $20 million to upgrade Quesnel Rec Centre

CNC’s Applied Research and Innovation had partnered with the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Cariboo Agricultural Research Alliance and Mackin Creek Farm after receiving funding from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to research a number of solutions potentially extending northern growing seasons. (Photo submitted)
Ways to extend growing season in B.C.’s north explored by College of New Caledonia in Quesnel

Low-cost supplemental LED lighting appears to benefit plant growth

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Since April 4, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Vancouver the largest source of domestic flights with COVID-19 cases: data

This month alone, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived

John Furlong, Own The Podium board chairman and former CEO of the Vancouver Olympics, addresses a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday November 25, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
John Furlong presents 2030 Winter Games vision to Vancouver Board of Trade

Vancouver and Whistler would remain among host sites because of 2010 sport venues still operational

Most Read