Kata Wahamaa of Maple Ridge plays at a Moms Stop the Harm demonstration in Victoria. (Special to The News)

Kata Wahamaa of Maple Ridge plays at a Moms Stop the Harm demonstration in Victoria. (Special to The News)

Moms Stop the Harm hosting event in Maple Ridge on Saturday

Marking sixth anniversary of overdose deaths declared a public health emergency

The sixth anniversary of the B.C. government declaring a public health emergency because of overdose deaths will be marked in Maple Ridge on Saturday, in an event organized by the local chapter of Moms Stop the Harm.

The advocates of Moms Stop the Harm are keeping this issue before the public on the grim anniversary.

After six years, Kat Wahamaa said she’s tired, and the situation has only gotten worse. She is a member of both Mom’s Stop the Harm and the Maple Ridge Street Outreach Society. They are partnering in the event at Memorial Peace Park from 4-6 p.m.

She said there will be people sharing their stories, music, an opportunity for people to get information and resources, and naloxone training. Wahamaa lost her son to a drug overdose.

The group lobbies politicians to change drug policies, prioritizing saving lives over other considerations, she explained.

READ ALSO: 174 British Columbians – 6 under the age of 19 – died of toxic drug poisonings in February

On April 14, 2016, B.C.’s provincial health officer declared a public health emergency due to a significant increase in opioid-related overdose deaths. Since that time, the number of people who have died from drug toxicity in B.C. has risen tragically and dramatically, said a press release from Mom’s Stop the Harm. 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.

“We certainly have control over the death toll,” asserts Wahamaa. “Safe supply is an initiative that could certainly be ramped up.”

She and other members of Moms Stop the Harm say government officials have not responded to overdose deaths with the same urgency as they did the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have to follow the science and evidence as we deal with this emergency, as we have with the other health emergency,” said Wahamaa.

Her organization is planning events in Victoria, Vancouver, Mission, Kelowna and the Kootenays, in addition to Maple Ridge.

“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.”

READ ALSO: Jurisdictions looking to decriminalize small amounts of drugs to curb overdose deaths

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