A regional outreach organization is set to host a unique event later this month that will provide training on an important life-saving antidote.
The Tri-Cities Overdose Community Action Team (TCCAT) is encouraging residents to attend its free event in Coquitlam coinciding with International Overdose Awareness Day — an annual global campaign to "end overdose, remember without stigma those who have died and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind."
Naloxone training will be given by experts at Glen Pine Pavilion in Spirit Square, as well as resources from community groups on how you can respond in an overdose situation.
Dubbed "Arts and Awareness in the Park," spokesperson Darian Vincent tells the Tri-City News the event will feature testimonies from those who've gone through the trials and tribulations of drug use.
"The event will feature multiple artists including myself, as well as give space for people to tell their own stories or maybe the story of a loved one who struggles with addiction," he says.
"We are also encouraging these people to bring a photo of said person if they are comfortable with that."
MORE MEN DIE THAN WOMEN
In 2021 thus far, the BC Coroners' Service states there have been 24 known illicit drug overdose deaths in the Tri-Cities. The latest report accounts for those deaths between Jan. 1 and May 31.
This is the sixth-highest number among local health areas across B.C. behind Vancouver (160), Surrey (86), Greater Victoria (54), Burnaby (27) and Abbotsford (26).
The Tri-Cities local health area experienced a significant number of overdose deaths in 2020 (46), and the Coroners' Service adds 58% of those toxic drug deaths occurred in private residences, with more males (1,401) dying than females (323).
In the Tri-Cities, the rate of death was 17.9 per 100,000 people in 2020, compared to 7.9 in 2019 and 14.8 in 2018, 18.4 in 2017 and 9.4 in 2016.
TCCAT aims to raise this very awareness and advocate for safe drug use at its free educational event, which will also welcome local Indigenous artist Christine Mackenzie running a community art interactive session for interested residents.
It's scheduled for Aug. 31, 2021, from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
- with a file from Diane Strandberg, Tri-City News