Last June, 184 British Columbians are suspected to have died from drug overdoses.
The numbers can tell a story but they can also obscure one.
“The numbers are people,” says Roxanne Saxon, program coordinator with the Tri-Cities Community Action Team.
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Ahead of International Overdose Awareness Day, the Tri-Cities Community Action Team is set to lead three events across the Tri-Cities to remember those who have died and suffered due to the toxic drug crisis.
Each overdose causes a ripple effect through an intertwining network of friends, families and neighbourhoods. But as the crisis drags on, some people are becoming somewhat desensitized to those ripples, Saxon says.
The events are a way to combat that numbness. They’re also a way to reach out to people who might feel like they’re suffering alone.
“We see you. We hear you,” Saxon says. “It’s not just the lives being lost. It’s everybody else that’s being affected. And it’s preventable.”
A two-hour remembrance walk along the river from Gates to Aggie Park is set to begin at 6 p.m. on Friday.
The walk is meant to honour the lives that have been lost. The Tri-Cities Community Action Team is also planning to start a three-part community art project at the event.
Everyone’s invited to decorate and paint that art project, Saxon explains.
The idea is that art can bring people together while offering a voice to people who might feel like they don’t have one.
Emerging from the pandemic, many people are still shaking off feelings of isolation, she says.
“It’s a time to come together and support each other.”
A pop-up tent event is set for Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Blue Mountain Park. Besides discussions about harm reduction, the event is set to featuring artwork around mental health and addiction.
Another pop-up tent event is set for Pioneer Park from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. The community art project is set to wrap up at Sunday’s event.
The events are meant to be collaborative rather than combative, according to Saxon.
“We’re not there with picket signs and pitchforks,” Saxon says. “We’re really about opening that compassion and opening up people’s minds and caring for each other.”
Artists interested in participating are invited to sign up here.
The event also has room for more service providers – provided they bring their own tables and chairs, Saxon adds.