Wednesday (Aug. 31) marks the International Day of Overdose Awareness and this year advocates are asking people to draw attention to those lost to the toxic drug supply through the use of empty purple chairs.
Purple has long been used as the colour to represent lives lost to the growing global crisis. Now, the empty chairs will stand in those peoples’ places.
In 2021 in B.C., a record 2,264 people died as a result of the toxic supply and another 1,095 people have died in the first six months of 2022 alone.
In the last decade, toxic drugs have killed 11,670 people in B.C. More than 10,000 of those deaths have occurred since the province declared the toxic supply a public health emergency in 2016.
In the lead up to Aug. 31, people across Canada and beyond have posted photos of their empty purple chairs to social media, commemorating someone they have lost personally or bringing awareness to the crisis generally.
Moms Stop the Harm suggests those who make a chair place it some place special, such as in their garden, or bring it to an International Overdose Awareness Day event. A list of events can be found at momstoptheharm.com/ioad
Empty Chair Campaign setting an empty chair for my Baby Sister Jennifer Felix AKA Dude passed away February 23rd of this year in Tache BC.— Samantha Felix (@ADDICTS2ANGELS) August 21, 2022
IM ADVOCATING ON BEHALF OF #momsstoptheharm & for First Nations Community that struggle with lack of support/services from local providers. pic.twitter.com/g5Ilmjht5g
August is Overdose Awareness month. I chose to join in the Empty Chair Campaign with a purple chair to honour so many good people. pic.twitter.com/EZgEKOXKyS— KimsterSix (@KimsterSix) August 1, 2022
The community of Ste. Rose came together and have these chairs at our primary health care centre, medical clinic, RCMP, and hospital ✨💜✨— Overdose Awareness Manitoba (@overdoseawaremb) August 29, 2022
- Ste. Rose, Manitoba #emptychaircampaign2022 #oam #msth #emptychair #paintcanadapurple #overdoseawareness #gonetoosoon #stigmaendswithus pic.twitter.com/jtzURW2zc2
Getting ready for International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31st. Listening to 90’s hip-hop and wearing a B-ball shirt thinking about Blake. This purple chair will be left out as a symbol of those missing from the table. @OverdoseDay #EndOverdose https://t.co/hcqZd3fDTC pic.twitter.com/tX85A6L9tr— Dr. Kaylynn Purdy 🟠 (@KP_MD2018) August 30, 2022
As we approach International Overdose Awareness Day we continue to lose people in our community at an alarming rate. The image of an empty purple chair is used to signify that someone is missing. Here at ACCKWA we feel the impact of this empty chair, and all the empty chairs. pic.twitter.com/7lxaGffkVF— ACCKWA (@AIDSCKW) August 23, 2022
A purple chair for Destiny.— Overdose Awareness Manitoba (@overdoseawaremb) August 30, 2022
Destiny was a leader and an advocate, fighting for the many causes she believed in and trying to make the world a more caring and compassionate place. May her light shine on.
Miss you every day.
- Tammy Taillieu, Winnipeg, MB#emptychaircampaign2022 pic.twitter.com/Tjbfze95ur
My purple chair for the lives lost to the poison drug supply pic.twitter.com/nqooqHyqqN— Michele Cleary-Haire (@Clearyhaire) August 5, 2022