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You may see hundreds of purple flags while driving through the Tri-Cities on Sunday. Here's why

The flags will be planted early in the morning by the Tri-Cities Community Action Team.
Little purple flags like this one will be fluttering along busy routes through the Tri-Cities on Sunday to remember victims of British Columbia's toxic drug crisis.

If you’re driving through the Tri-Cities on Sunday, April 14, you might see hundreds of little purple flags along your route.

The Tri-Cities Overdose Community Action Team (TCCAT) will be planting the flags early that morning along St. Johns Street in Port Moody, as well as the Barnet and Lougheed highways through Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam.

The group says each of the flags represents lives lost to toxic drugs in the past eight years.

According to the BC Coroners Service, more than 14,200 people have died from toxic, unregulated drugs in the province since a public health emergency over the crisis was declared on April 14, 2016. That number grows every month, said the service, in a statement released on April 5.

“Unregulated drug toxicity is the leading cause of death in British Columbia for persons aged 10 to 59.”

Roxanne Saxon, the program coordinator for TCCAT said the statistics hit close to home.

“Within the Tri-Cities, we are losing our community members, our friends and family,” she said.

The flags will be complemented by posters explaining what the group is doing, Saxon said, and all will be removed in the evening.

Saxon said TCCAT works to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and substance use by providing links to educational resources and holding community events like remembrance walks and art displays. It also alerts the community to toxic drugs that may be circulating in the area.

“We want to recognize that these are people, not just numbers,” she said, adding it’s important the issue remain in the public consciousness.

“We are seeing more and more people lose their lives because they are alone.”

Meanwhile, a Port Moody group that teaches young people and the public about the drug crisis as well as provides training to administer naloxone to revive overdose victims recently received a $5,000 grant from the Ministry of the Attorney General to continue its education project.

NaloxHome was founded in 2021 by Port Moody resident Chloe Goodison while she was studying health sciences at Simon Fraser University.