Overdose Awareness Day: Royal Inland Hospital lighting pedestrian walkway; Kelowna to debut Photo Voice Project | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Overdose Awareness Day: Royal Inland Hospital lighting pedestrian walkway; Kelowna to debut Photo Voice Project

RIH is planning to light its pedestrian walkway.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Interior Health
August 30, 2020 - 12:34 PM

Overdose awareness day has taken on new urgency, given the recent spike of drug-related deaths.

"The number of people dying in B.C., due to an unsafe drug supply continues to surpass deaths due to homicides, motor vehicle accidents, suicides and COVID-19 combined, and continues to take a tragic toll on people from all walks of life and in all communities of the province," chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said at an Aug. 25 press conference.

In Kelowna, from January to July, there have been 33 drug-related deaths. That's the same number of deaths for the entirety of 2019. In 2018, there were 56 deaths and in 2017, the height of the overdose crisis, there were 73 deaths.

It's a similar situation in Kamloops, where there have been 32 deaths from January until July.

In 2019, there were 26 for the year and in 2018 there were 46. At the height of the overdose crisis, in 2017, Kamloops had 38 overdose deaths.

Provincewide, there were 175 illicit drug deaths this July, representing a 136 per cent increase over the number of deaths seen in July 2019. That raises the yearly total of drug deaths to 909.

Overdose awareness day is tomorrow, Aug. 31, and Interior Health is marking the day in many different ways.

In Kamloops, Royal Inland Hospital will be lighting its pedestrian walkway again this year, and the advocacy group Addiction Matters Kamloops will be working alongside a community group to fund a meal for people who are homeless and marginally housed, while also promoting the Words Matter pledge. Visit www.addictionmatters.ca for information about the Photo Voice project and the Words Matter pledge.

In Kelowna, people visiting the Community Health and Services Centre on Doyle and Ellis will have the opportunity to check out the Photo Voice Project, a gallery-style collection of photos by individuals and families with lived experience of substance use, helping others see the world through their eyes.

Activities planned in other parts of the region include the Okanagan Nation Alliance’s Purple Ribbon Campaign, and an awareness campaign by Moms Stop the Harm. Local Community Action Teams are marking the day by providing Naloxone training and distributing wellness kits.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels 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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