Christmas Trees of Hope for illicit drug overdose awareness in Kamloops, Kelowna | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Christmas Trees of Hope for illicit drug overdose awareness in Kamloops, Kelowna

Organizers setting up a Tree of Hope in North Hills Mall in Kamloops on Dec. 3, 2022. From left to right: Steve Winless, Danaleigh Tomada, Troylana Manson, Charene Wilson Monk, Sandra Tully, David Schmidt.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Troylana Manson

Purple and white trees of hope are going up across the country to bring awareness to the opioid crisis and support those who have lost loved ones to drug overdoses.

The annual ritual organized by Moms Stop The Harm is in its fifth year in Kelowna and its third year in Kamloops.

“Christmas is a hard time for families who have lost their kids,” said Moms Stop the Harm organizer for the Okanagan area, Helen Jennens.

Jennens and her team recently set up their biggest tree in the lobby of the Royal Building at Kelowna General Hospital and put up six smaller trees in six shelters across Kelowna, Dec. 5.

The team in Kamloops, called Healing Hearts, put their Tree of Hope at North Hills Mall on Dec. 3.

“The tree in the hospital is like a memorial for those we have lost to overdose at a difficult time of the year,” Jennens said. “The tree is white and the decorations are purple, the colour that represents overdose awareness. We hang clear balls with photos of our kids in them, in memory of them.”

READ MORE: Interior Health warning of toxic drug supply in Kelowna, Kamloops

Jennens said the trees in the shelters are to show people there who are living with addictions and mental health issues that they are cared for. Jennens team also drops off chocolates to the shelters, and clear balls with paper and pens for those using shelters to honour lost loved ones.

In Kamloops, organizer Troylana Manson and her team are encouraging community members to hang an ornament with their loved ones picture on the tree, which will be at North Hills Mall until Dec. 30. For those who can’t get to the tree, they can send a photo of their loved through email and the team will hang it for them.

“We have placed all picture ornaments from prior years onto this year’s tree,” Manson said. “Seeing such a beautiful tree also brings sadness as there are way too many young faces on our tree. It marks another year that families are grieving the tragic loss of their loved one lost to the toxic drug poisoning.”

In the first 10 month of this year, 1,827 people died from the poisoned illicit drug supply with 179 of those death occurring in October, according to a B.C. Coroner’s report.

Since the public health emergency was declared in April 2016, 10,907 B.C. residents have died.

“The tree resembles the remembrance, healing and awareness of those gone too soon,” Manson said. “The tree is one way for families to feel their loved one is remembered by hanging an ornament with their picture and name. The acknowledgment and feeling the support of others going through the same loss, allows our grief to be both felt and expressed in this annual memorial event.”

READ MORE: Death toll from toxic illicit drug supply in Okanagan, Kamloops continues to climb

Manson said her team hopes that as others become aware of the tree they will connect with other families and groups if they are finding this time of year challenging.

“They are not alone in this devastating loss,” she said. “We hope through the tree display that individuals won’t feel so alone in their grief.” 

The Trees of Hope campaign was originally started by member of Moms Stop The Harm in Powell River.

“If you have lost someone or even know somebody is struggling, go and put a ball on the tree, we are there to create awareness,” Jennens said.

If you want help getting an ornament hung on the tree in Kamloops send an email to If you need help getting the name of your loved one added to a tree in Kelowna, send an email to

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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