Drug users, friends, family and supporting community groups in Nanaimo held a rally and march Tuesday as part of the National Day of Action on the Overdose Crisis. Anti-overdose advocacy groups held events in more than 20 cities. CHRIS BUSH/Nanaimo News Bulletin

Nanaimo joins National Day of Action on the Overdose Crisis

Drug users demand national, provincial, municipal funding and policy changes to end overdoses

Maffeo Sutton Park was the backdrop for a rally in Nanaimo on Tuesday, as drug users joined their peers across Canada for a National Day of Action on the Overdose Crisis.

The event featured speeches, a march to city hall where participants placed flowers in a coffin to commemorate lives lost to overdoses, and a community outreach event and barbecue at Maffeo Sutton Park. Similar events took place in more than 20 cities across Canada but, locally, was a collaboration between New Leaf Outreach, a peer-run drug-user organization, and the Nanaimo Community Action Team, comprised of city staff and non-profit organizations that provide services to people who use drugs.

Tuesday’s event marked the third anniversary of B.C.’s declaration of a public health emergency due to the increase of overdose deaths. According to the B.C. Coroners Service, fentanyl-related drug overdoses claimed the lives of 31 people in Nanaimo in 2018.

RELATED: On National Day of Action, expert says overdose crisis is not about pain

RELATED: B.C. opioid overdoses still killing four people a day, health officials say

Kevin Donaghy, executive director of New Leaf Outreach Society, delivered a speech which laid out lists of demands from the federal, provincial and municipal governments.

“The last year in British Columbia there were more overdose deaths than any other year prior,” Donaghy said, during his speech. “The overdose crisis continues to get worse and we’re here today to hold the government accountable to address the overdose crisis and to meaningfully engage the people who use drugs in the process of addressing the overdose crisis.”

Donaghy said members of groups, such as New Leaf Outreach Society, are the experts when it comes to overdose prevention, that it was drug users in the province who were at the front line of overdose prevention before provincial health authorities began investing in harm reduction, and drug users remain at the front line of overdose prevention today. He said the solution to ending the overdose crisis is to get past the moral issue of using drugs and support people who use drugs and provide them with a safe, regulated supply of drugs.

“The call from people who use drugs from across the province and across the country is to demand that drug policy reform happen immediately and that we provide people with the drugs that they need, that they use, that they want to use, that they have a choice to use, that we stop criminalizing people who use drugs,” he said.

The list of demands from the federal, provincial and municipal governments include a declaration of a national public health emergency; a safe and regulated supply of drugs; accessible and Canadian-produced heroin; decriminalization of drug use; emergency funding for overdose prevention sites; immediate funding for peer-run overdose prevention sites; and sustainable funding for safe supply programs across B.C. and in Nanaimo. In addition, Donaghy demands that staff at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital undergo compassion training “so that drug users are able to safely access services.”

Donaghy also demanded a drug analysis facility be provided so people can have their drugs tested to determine if they are safe before they are ingested.



photos@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Just Posted

Departure Bay Eco-School students calling for old cellphones

Grade 7 students at Nanaimo school taking part in Recycle My Cell Earth Month Challenge

RDN to share cost of Parksville’s goose harvest

City asked regional district to pay one-third of $35K expense

Woman who was chased and tackled by break-and-enter victim sentenced in Nanaimo court

Natasha Geraldine Harris, 28, was sentenced to time served and will be released from jail

Health minister talks opioid crisis in campaign stop in Nanaimo

Support of cabinet ministers ‘incredible’ experience, says Liberal candidate

First Nanaimo-Ladysmith all-candidates’ meeting is tomorrow

Six candidates expected to debate issues Thursday, April 25, at the Beban Park social centre

VIDEO: Driver in bizarre hit-and-run at B.C. car dealership turns herself in

Police believe alcohol was a factor in incident causing estimated $15,000 in damages

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

B.C. woman, 76, challenges alcohol-screening laws after failing to give breath sample

Norma McLeod was unable to provide a sample because of her medical conditions

New report on 2017 wildfires calls for better coordination with B.C. First Nations

Tsilhqot’in National Government documents 2017 disaster and lists 33 calls to action

B.C. youth coach banned amid sexual harassment, bullying scandal: Water Polo Canada

Justin Mitchell can’t take part in Water Polo Canada events or clubs

Wilson-Raybould: Feds want to just ‘manage the problem’ of Indigenous Peoples

Former federal justice minister speaks at First Nations Justice Council meeting in B.C.

Nanaimo Astronomy Society already anticipating next moon mission

Society’s next meeting is on Thursday, April 25, at Beban Park social centre

Historian happily surprised about Morden Mine funding

What took so long for support for restoration work, asks columnist

Upgrades planned for Gabriola ferry terminal

Plans call for new loading ramp, creation of a vehicle holding area and new terminal building

Most Read