August 31 International Overdose Awareness Day – it is a time to remember and take action about the overdose crisis.
Addiction and overdose can affect anyone. However according to the BC Coroners Service in 2021 so far 70 per cent of those dying were aged 30 to 59. Non-Aboriginal males accounted for 79 per cent of deaths. 85 per cent of illicit drug toxicity deaths occurred inside, with the majority in private residences. In 2021 so far, 39 per cent of deaths were among people over the age of 50. First Nations are disproportionately impacted – while they make up 3.3 per cent of the provincial population, 14.7 per cent of overdose deaths were First Nations people.
For questions about mental health and substance use supports in your community call 310-MHSU. If you need urgent help call the Interior Crisis Line at 1-888-353-2273.
Stigma continues to be one of the biggest barriers for people who use substances. The shame and blame associated with addiction prevents people from reaching out for help and forces them to use alone, putting them at risk of overdose. One of the simplest things we can all do is choose to use non-stigmatizing language when we are talking about substance use and overdose.
Events in your community
Over the last number of years, communities across the IH region have held events and led initiatives for International Overdose Awareness Day. Individuals, groups and organizations from various communities are coming together to plan activities on August 31. Planning is still underway and details will be shared as they become available. We will continue to update this page. * Note: Plans are also subject to change in response to local wildfire and COVID-19 concerns. Please respect all COVID-19 protocols.
- Castlegar: Saturday, Aug. 28, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Farmer’s Market a booth will be set up to honor loved ones lost to overdose, raise awareness, and provide education around harm reduction and overdose.
- Cranbrook: Public event noon – 4 p.m. 209A 16 Ave. N. Art display, harm reduction info, food, memorial and music. Details at www.EKNPUD.org.
- Grand Forks: Aug. 28 – Information booth to be located downtown, public walk and candlelight vigil. Information table downtown from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.; march at 10 a.m.; vigil at 7 p.m.
- Kamloops: In-person gathering hosted by Addiction Matters Kamloops. Candle display and evening event on Aug. 31 at MacDonald park (5-7p.m.) Poetry, music, naloxone training, bannock. Free and open to the public.
- Kelowna: Annual Moms Stop the Harm event supported by the Community Action Team. Naloxone and drug testing demos, speeches and a candlelight vigil at Kerry Park at 7 p.m.
- Nelson: Cottonwood Falls park event Aug. 31, 1 – 3 p.m.
- Okanagan: Collaborative planning by Moms Stop the Harm and Aboriginal partners for the Purple Ribbon campaign and caravan.
- Oliver: Outdoor awareness billboard by Moms Stop the Harm. Public event 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Oliver Eats (6060 Station St.) with pancakes, haircuts, counselling on site and more.
- Penticton: Public event 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Gyro Park in Penticton on Aug. 31. Memorial table, drug checking demonstrations, harm reduction info and Naloxone training on site.
- Trail: Purple ribbons and posters will line major streets in Rossland and Trail. The Trail bridge will be lit in purple. An interactive educational kiosk at the Cenotaph (Pine Avenue) will provide information about overdose.
- Williams Lake: In person public event – details to come.
Everyone is invited to tune into a LIVE STREAM Facebook Candlelight Vigil Aug. 31 at
6:30 p.m. by Moms Stop the Harm. The vigil will be an evening of music and words of remembrance featuring guest speakers: Lisa Lapointe, BC Coroner and Dr. Jennifer Charlesworth, BC Representative for Children & Youth, and Leslie McBain, Co-Founder of MSTH. Go to the Moms Stop the Harm Facebook page to livestream this special event. Or, check out the online event from provincial Overdose Response Community Action Teams, featuring a panel of well known experts such as Guy Felicella, Leslie McBain, and others. Aug. 31 8:30 – 10:30 a.m.
If you’d like to participate and spread awareness, here are a few other ideas to consider:
- Promote and take the Every Word Matters pledge at www.addictionmatters.ca
- Wear purple to support overdose awareness
- Display a purple ribbon at your worksite or home
- Attend the Moms Stop the Harm live stream candlelight vigil on August 31 at 6:30 p.m. PST
- Visit www.overdoseawarenessday.com to learn more and access printable materials
If you are aware of events that aren’t listed here yet please let us know – contact Jessica Mensinger for more information. For information about the overdose crisis and Interior Health’s response visit www.interiorhealth.ca.