Advocates from Moms Stop the Harm and Rural Empowered Drug Users Network met outside the Cenotaph in Trail and Rossland city council chambers last Wednesday to raise awareness of the overdose and opioid crisis and encourage the federal government to declare it a national health emergency. (Jim Bailey photos)

Advocates from Moms Stop the Harm and Rural Empowered Drug Users Network met outside the Cenotaph in Trail and Rossland city council chambers last Wednesday to raise awareness of the overdose and opioid crisis and encourage the federal government to declare it a national health emergency. (Jim Bailey photos)

Advocates hold opioid crisis vigil in Trail and Rossland

A delegation offered a powerful presentation on the opioid crisis to Rossland council last month

The Trail Cenotaph was a solemn yet appropriate location to commemorate the more than 7,000 people who have died in B.C. since the overdose crisis began five years ago.

Wednesday, April 14, marked B.C.’s fifth anniversary of declaring the overdose crisis a public health emergency as moms from Moms Stop the Harm (MSTH) and members of the Rural Empowered Drug Users Network (REDUN) met at the Cenotaph in Trail, and later, outside of the Rossland city council chambers, to raise awareness and support the effort to declare the opioid crisis a national emergency.

B.C.’s provincial government responded with the announcing Wednesday of $45 million in funding to be provided for programs aimed at stopping poisonings caused by illicit fentanyl in street drugs, and will request a federal exemption to decriminalize personal possession.

“We’re happy with the premier’s request to decriminalize possession in the province, because if you look at other jurisdictions and what they’ve done to stem opioid deaths that’s a really critical piece,” said MSTH member Diana Daghofer. “So I think today has been really positive, really worthwhile.”

In pre-COVID times, people brought pairs of shoes, but on Wednesday, painted rocks represented loved ones who have died by overdose.

While Daghofer, a Rossland resident, is pleased that governments are starting to take notice, she says there is a lot more work that needs to be done.

Daghofer led a delegation to Rossland city council last month offering a powerful presentation on the crisis and how it has personally affected the lives of West Kootenay residents.

The city responded by joining 40 other communities in Canada to pass a resolution urging the government to declare the opioid crisis a national public health emergency.

“I think the federal government needs to hear, if they don’t already know, that this is affecting all municipalities across the country,” said Daghofer. “There is nobody that is untouched by the opioid crisis and municipalities cannot deal with it on their own, they need support provincially, they need support nationally, they need a leadership to put a focus and some resources into this issue.”

In Rossland and Trail, there is only one part-time program, the Opioid Replacement Therapy clinic, where substance users are provided prescription drugs to help them stop using street drugs, along with counselling, medical and social support. REDUN has been working to reduce stigma around drug use by doing community clean ups of drug paraphernalia.

“The stigma around drug use means people do not reach out for help, for fear of being arrested, or losing their jobs, homes or families,” said Trail REDUN coordinator Lisa Kavaloff in a news release.

One way that municipalities have addressed the problem is by providing overdose prevention sites. The sites provide a safe, clean space for people to bring their own drugs to use, supervised by trained staff.

They offer a range of evidence-based harm reduction services, such as drug checking, and reduce drug poisoning deaths to almost zero. Depending on the model, overdose prevention sites can also include access to prescription opioid replacement therapy, support/applications to attend drug rehabilitation programs, and on-site medical care.

One study conducted at Insite, Vancouver’s first supervised consumption site, showed that after two years, almost one-quarter of participants had stopped injecting drugs and over half (57 per cent) had entered addiction treatment programs.

Overdose prevention sites also make communities safer.

They reduce public drug use and discarded drug equipment and lessen the strain on police, ambulance and first responder services, so they can focus on other emergencies.

The sites also reduce the spread of infectious diseases, such as HIV, Hepatitis C, and provide savings in healthcare costs overall.

Moms Stop the Harm and REDUN are planning a similar visit to Trail council, and hope communities continue to look for ways to address the crisis.

“We need personal stories, we need people who will step up and make this issue real,” said Daghofer. “Too many people think this is a street problem and it’s just a problem with the homeless and we need to make the homeless go away.

“Well it’s not.

“Two-thirds of all overdose deaths, drug-poisoning deaths in Interior Health were inside people’s private residences…

“So most of the people who are dying have homes and families and jobs and people who love them.

“We need to hear these stories more, so people recognize that this affects everybody.”

The province recorded 1,716 deaths by overdose in 2020 with 283 in the Interior Health region – a historic yet tragic high.

Read: BC budgets half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis



sports@trailtimes.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Rossland

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

 

afa

Just Posted

A medical worker prepares vials of the COVID-19 vaccines, Chinese Sinopharm, left, Sputnik V, center, and Pfizer at a vaccine centre, in the Usce shopping mall in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, May 6, 2021. Serbian authorities are looking for incentives for people to boost vaccination that has slowed down in recent weeks amid widespread anti-vaccination and conspiracy theories in the Balkan nation. The government has also promised a payment of around 25 euros to everyone who gets vaccinated by the end of May. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
38 new COVID-19 cases, more than 335k vaccines administered in Interior Health

Interior Health also to start targeted vaccinations in high transmission neighbourhoods

FILE PHOTO
Second doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be available, as AstraZeneca supply runs low: Interior Health

Province expecting large volumes of Pfizer BioNTech as age-based cohort immunization program ramps up

Greg Nesteroff and Eric Brighton, the historians behind popular Facebook page Lost Kootenays, are set to release a book of the same name and have just unveiled its cover showing the ghostly Hotel in Slocan City shortly before its 1953 demolition. Photo courtesy of Greg Nesteroff and Eric Brighton.
Popular historical Facebook page Lost Kootenays set to release book

128-page hard copy documenting history of East and West Kootenays coming this fall

Paul Chung is working as an early childhood educator at Cornerstone Children’s Centre in Nelson. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Immigration pilot targets hard-to-fill jobs in West Kootenay

Program helps newcomers get permanent residency status in rural areas

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is an independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C.’s 1st vaccine-induced blood clot case detected in Interior Health

Interior Health also recorded 52 new cases of COVID-19

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Small majority of B.C. residents in favour of a Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid: survey

A new survey shows a split over the possibility of public money being spent to organize and host the winter games

Junior A team Coquitlam Express is offering all Tri-City residents who get vaccinated against COVID-19 a free ticket to one of their games. (Facebook/Coquitlam Express)
B.C. hockey team offering free tickets to hometown fans who get the COVID-19 vaccine

‘We know the only way to get fans back is people getting vaccinated,’ says Express’ general manager Tali Campbell

Most Read