Kitimat marked International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) with an awareness walk on Wednesday (Aug. 31) morning.
Organized by the Haisla Nation and Tamitik Status of Women (TSW), the walk commenced from the parking lot of Douglas Place. The Kitimat RCMP assisted in the planning and provided traffic control.
Every year on Aug. 31, IOAD is observed globally to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of drug-related death. Based on statistics released by the BC Coroners Service last month, the province has seen more than 10,000 lives lost to illicit drugs since April 2016. Between January and June 2022, at least 1,095 British Columbians are believed to have died due to toxic drug supply.
Over 40 people joined in the walk, said Vincent Paul, an outreach and awareness worker from the Haisla Nation. Community members came out in support wearing purple clothes and carrying purple balloons.
“We just wanted to raise awareness because there are a lot of young people dying because of the drugs that’s coming into town,” he said. ‘It’s time to take a stand.”
Paul said the Nation is working with service agencies in town to help connect people with the proper resources when they require help. “I also want our young people to know and that they can reach out to me or Amanda Jones (from TSW) if they need help,” he said.
The Kitimat RCMP said they welcomed the opportunity to bring awareness to the overdose crisis by participating in the overdose awareness walk.
“Acknowledging that this is an issue in our community is important,” said detachment commander, Graham Morgan. “Our community has a number of harm reduction supports in place and providing all community members with awareness and access to these services is critical.”