Rally in Maple Ridge calls for safe supply to address overdose epidemic

Tracy Scott (left) and Kat Wahamaa (right) spoke at the Moms Stop The Harm event on Saturday. (Neil Corbett/The News)Tracy Scott (left) and Kat Wahamaa (right) spoke at the Moms Stop The Harm event on Saturday. (Neil Corbett/The News)
(Neil Corbett/The News)(Neil Corbett/The News)
Rally supporters were on 224th Street sharing their messages with passersby. (Neil Corbett/The News)Rally supporters were on 224th Street sharing their messages with passersby. (Neil Corbett/The News)
Kat Wahamaa is a former artist in residence in Maple Ridge, and led the creation of a mandala. (Neil Corbett/The News)Kat Wahamaa is a former artist in residence in Maple Ridge, and led the creation of a mandala. (Neil Corbett/The News)
Kat Wahamaa (Neil Corbett/The News)Kat Wahamaa (Neil Corbett/The News)

The groups Moms Stop the Harm and Maple Ridge Street Outreach Society held a rally in Maple Ridge on Saturday evening, calling on the government to prioritize the public health crisis of overdose deaths.

Organizers Kat Wahamaa and Tracy Scott and a small group of supporters offered speeches and songs that called for government to provide a safe supply of drugs at the event, which was held at Memorial Peace Park between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

This week marked the sixth anniversary of the B.C. government declaring a public health emergency because of overdose deaths.

Wahamaa, who lost her son to a drug overdose, said she doesn’t want to see other people lose a loved one, before they finally see the necessity of legalization. She said the government did not seek out public input before taking action to stop the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have six people a day now dying, so what’s happening? What’s going on? Why aren’t we treating this like COVID, and having an actual emergency response?” she asked.

With 2,224 lives lost in 2021, the province is losing 6.7 people per day to drug poisoning. This is a 26 per cent increase over the previous year.

“It’s the drug supply that is toxic. It isn’t people taking too many drugs, it is a poison source of illicit supply,” said Wahamaa.

READ ALSO: Lives lost too soon to fentanyl

There were chapters of Moms Stop the Harm planning similar events in Victoria, Vancouver, Kelowna and the Kootenays.

Wahamaa also hosted a rally in Mission on Saturday afternoon, before the Maple Ridge event.

More than 9,400 British Columbians have been lost to toxic illicit drugs since 2016, as fentanyl has become increasingly popular with drug users. Despite the emergency declaration, B.C. has seen 17 consecutive months of more than 150 deaths due to toxic drug poisonings.

READ ALSO: ‘Death penalty situation’: 6 years ago, B.C. declared toxic drug poisonings a health emergency

“Please join voices with Moms Stop the Harm as we demand immediate life saving measures that will end the deaths related to toxic drug poisoning,” said a press release from the group. “Six years have passed, this cannot continue, it is time to take action. Please join us on April 14, 2022. If you are unable to attend a local event, we invite you to post a photo of your loved one on social media with a simple statement – “My Loved One Matter.” Let us collectively flood social media on this anniversary date of the BC Public Health Emergency.”


Is there more to the story? Email: ncorbett@mapleridgenews.com

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