Mothers, fathers, friends, family, loved ones and supporters gathered in downtown Kelowna on Thursday evening for a vigil to remember those who who have died as a result of the the toxic drug supply crisis on International Overdose Awareness Day.
The August 31, vigil in Kelowna’s Kerry Park that saw hundreds of attendees was organized by a local chapter of Moms Stop the Harm.
The annual event is held to remember and hold space for the people who have died as a result of the toxic drug crisis. Moms Stop the Harm works to to ensure that the stories of their children who have died of drug overdose and poisoning help to educate and inspire others to enact change.
Helen Jennens, a member of Moms Stop the Harm has lost two of her sons to the crisis. She spoke with Capital News at the vigil about the importance of raising awareness of the reality of substance use disorders.
Jennens said that at Moms Stop the Harm they work to break down the stigma associated with substance use disorders while educating people about harm reduction strategies.
To learn more and to access support for parents with a child experiencing substance use disorder visit momsstoptheharm.com.
Earlier this week, the most recent statistics that detail the grim reality of the toxic drug crisis in B.C. were released.
In the month of July, 198 people died from the toxic and unregulated drug supply in B.C., which is roughly six deaths each day.
“These aren’t just statistics and numbers: these are people we know and love. They are people in our families, people we work with, our neighbours and our friends,” said Interior Health’s medical health officer Dr. Carol Fenton.
At least 12,739 people have died of overdoses and drug poisonings since the public health emergency was declared in April 2016.
Video and more information to come.