Mothers of Okanagan fentanyl victims get Drug Overdose Awareness Day | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Mothers of Okanagan fentanyl victims get Drug Overdose Awareness Day

Tyler Leinwebber was 40-years-old when he died of accidental overdose in Kelowna. Now his mother Helen Jennens has gotten Aug. 31 declared Drug Overdose Awareness Day in Kelowna.
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July 21, 2017 - 3:50 PM

KELOWNA – The mom of a Kelowna man who died of fentanyl overdose has gotten August 31 declared Drug Overdose Awareness Day in the City of Kelowna.

Kelowna mayor Colin Basran signed the proclamation July 18, which says the province of B.C. lost over 900 people to overdose death in 2016.

“This day recognizes the devastating impact of drug overdose in Kelowna and also provides an opportunity to remember individuals who have died while making a commitment to preventing future deaths,” the proclamation reads.

It was spearheaded by a member of Moms Stop the Harm, a group of mothers from Western Canada who have lost children to opiate overdose.

Jennens son, Tyler Leinwebber, a Kelowna father of two getting help with his addiction, was found dead in his house Jan. 14, 2016.

The B.C. Coroners Service said the drug he thought was heroin was in fact pure fentanyl.

“Because of the stigma around addiction, people don’t understand that it is a real health crisis and it is happening all over the place,” she says. “Unless they have someone they love who is addicted they think it’s a problem with homeless people, but it’s happening in all walks of life. We want to put faces to this crisis so people understand that it can happen to anyone.”

Jennens and her group plan to lobby the government to repeal Bill C-2, which makes it harder to set up safe injection sites, but they also want to see a shift in how the public and law enforcement see addicts. A series of emails released this summer shows some high level B.C. doctors are suggesting the crisis may be so bad it could require decriminalization to properly address.

“Our goal is to reduce all harm for people with addiction,” she says. “They need medically assisted treatment long and short term. We need to support their addiction as they step down from it. And also helping them build a life where the necessity to use isn’t so important.”

Jennens and her group are asking the City to light the Kelowna Sails in purple Aug. 31 to honour members of the community who have been touched by addiction.

“We are in the midst of an opiod crisis, which sadly is not getting much better,” she says. “We are fighting a failing war on drugs, which is a war against people we love.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw or call 250-718-0428 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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News from © iNFOnews, 2017

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