Northern BC First Nations call state of emergency over opioid crisis, COVID pandemic

Emergency declared

Chiefs of the Carrier and Sekani First Nations are declaring a state of emergency with respect to the ongoing opioid crisis and coronavirus pandemic.

Along with Carrier Sekani Family Services, 11 Nation Chiefs call on the Canadian and provincial governments to take immediate action which should include a comprehensive commitment to combat the opioid crisis that continues to claim lives.

Indigenous people in B.C.’s Northern Interior region are experiencing over representation in overdose deaths and CSFS is seeking both federal and provincial funds to construct and operate a Healing/Treatment Centre.

A toxic drug supply, combined with the harms of historical and present-day colonialism, has led to Indigenous people dying from toxic drugs at a much higher rate compared to other B.C. residents.

Intergenerational impacts of residential school continue to be present. Mental health issues and addiction continue to impact the families we serve at a high rate.

“Carrier Sekani Family Services is poised and ready to increase capacity and services for the Addictions and Recovery program with our planned Healing/Treatment Centre, and we have a strong track record of successfully designing and delivering services to the communities we serve,” Chief Corrina Leween, CSFS board president, said. “What we require now is a financial commitment from the federal and provincial governments that claim to prioritize Indigenous needs. To highlight this I can share with you that in the past two weeks, communities we serve lost three more lives to this crisis. Three more people who were loved and were deserving of help.”

Leween said the crisis is also affecting Indigenous children in care, particularly those in the care of the MCFD, and that some of these children are also suffering from addictions and opioid-related deaths.

“We need this treatment centre as a part of the wrap-around care we endeavour to provide to the clients and families we serve,” Leween added.

More BC News