Vernon marks solemn anniversary of opioid emergency declaration

People continue to die

Holding on to black balloons, dozens of people walked through the streets of Vernon Thursday to bring attention to the ongoing opioid crisis.

It was six years ago when the BC government declared the opioid situation a health emergency.

Since then, more than 9,000 people have died from drug overdoses.

“Actually, I would call this the other pandemic,” said Chaplain Chuck with the North Okanagan Community Chaplaincy. “The amount of deaths...it's hard to keep track and to remember people because they are dying that fast.

“People are dying all the time and we need to have more resources in place to help people.”
Chuck said not only do agencies need to work closely together to support those in crisis, but there needs to be more resources for treatment and recovery.

“We need a detox centre here in Vernon, more treatment beds here in Vernon, second and third-stage recovery, we need more of that kind of stuff,” said Chuck.

Counc. Kelly Fehr was at the event representing the City of Vernon.

Fehr said over the past couple of years, COVID has taken attention away from the opioid crisis.

“Now is an opportunity for us to increase awareness around this epidemic that is killing hundreds upon thousands of people,” said Fehr.

“We need to start reducing the stigma...people need to feel comfortable talking about the issue that they have substance-abuse issues. It's not rare, people in all walks of life encounter these types of experiences,” said Fehr, who encourages people to reach out for help and not be ashamed.

The national group Moms Stop The Harm are also raising awareness of the crisis. Their website has stories from those who have lost loved ones as well as links to numerous support agencies.

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