Evening on Maple Ridge wharf for overdose victims

Marked International Overdose Awareness Day

People gathered on the Port Haney wharf Thursday to remember and commemorate those who have died from drug overdoses.

Residents were invited to share songs, food and stories about those who’ve been lost and to call for action to end the epidemic of drug overdoses, said a release from International Overdose Awareness Day.

Globally, the actual date for International Overdose Awareness Day is Aug. 31.

“The people who are dying are our sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters – they are loved, and they are missed.” said Kat Wahamaa, Moms Stop The Harm advocate.

Wahamaa is part of the Ridge Meadows Overdose Community Action Team.

Members of the community were encouraged to support those who have been personally affected by overdose, added Tracy Scott, Maple Ridge Street Outreach Society.

Both women have lost a child to overdoses.

Wahamaa said two major changes needed was to decriminalize drug use and to provide a safe, regulated supply of drugs through the health care system.

“We can eliminate the overdoses. We know it’s preventable and we can save millions of dollars,” Wahamaa said.

There are some programs where people can access opioid substitutes but they’re limited in scope.

“We have a public health system through which we can deploy a safe supply.”

She said harm reduction measures, such as safe consumption sites, are effective, adding that according to the B.C. Centre For Disease Control, 4,500 fatalities were prevented because of harm reduction efforts.

Instead of testing street drugs for fentanyl, “Why aren’t we distributing safe, clean, inexpensive drugs to people who have a medical condition … why aren’t we doing that?

“We know that’s what works. That’s what will stop people dying and it’s just not happening. And it’s lack of political will, on the federal level, on the provincial level.”

That would save millions of dollars, she added.

Allowing the current system to continue will just see more people die, she added.

She said that many Canadians are drug users because they drink alcohol but that they want to consume alcohol from a safe supply, such as government regulated liquour stores. “So we regulate that. It’s no different. What are we waiting for?”

Last year, there were 747 events held in 38 countries to mark International Overdose Awareness Day.

According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s most recent World Annual Drug Report, 585,000 people around the world died as a result of drug use in 2017.

The Maple Ridge event was organized by the Ridge Meadows Community Action Table.

That group involves a wide range of stakeholders including the City of Maple Ridge, Fraser Health, Moms Stop The Harm, first responders and people with lived experience along with poverty reduction supports as well as mental health and substance use services.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

Just Posted

IN IT TOGETHER: Important to move your butt

Maple Ridge mom offers series of wellness columns aimed at helping navigate through COVID-19

Council conduct bylaw under scrutiny in Maple Ridge

Bylaw being questioned at Committee of the Whole Tuesday afternoon

Pitt Meadows to host live virtual city council meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Mayor Dingwall updates on new initiatives and city staffing

Haney Bypass section closed for Easter long weekend

Bypass improvements expected to be completed later this year

City of Pitt Meadows launches local business and services listing

Guide provides info which will encourage and enable residents to shop local

COVID-19: 4 new deaths, 25 new cases but only in Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health

A total of 1,291 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

COVID-19: Don’t get away for Easter weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

John Horgan, Adrian Dix call 130 faith leaders as holidays approach

COVID-19 world update: Joy in Wuhan as lockdown lifted; Pope denounces profiteers

Comprehensive update of coronavirus news items from around the world

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

RCMP call on kids to name latest foal recruits

The baby horses names are to start with the letter ‘S’

As Canadians return home amid pandemic, border crossings dip to just 5% of usual traffic

Non-commercial land crossing dipped by 95%, air travel dropped by 96 per cent, according to the CBSA

Logan Boulet Effect: Green Shirt Day calls on Canadians to become organ donors

While social distancing, the day also honours the 16 lives lost in the 2018 Humboldt Broncos Crash

COMMENTARY: Knowing where COVID-19 cases are does not protect you

Dr. Bonnie Henry explains why B.C. withholds community names

Most Read