Concerned citizens march in Nanaimo on February 21, 2017, in solidarity with cities across Canada struggling with effective responses to the growing opioid overdose crisis
National Day of Action on the Overdose Crisis
Canada is in the midst of the worst overdose crisis in its history. But rather than take meaningful actions to prevent needless deaths and further harms to people who use drugs, advocates and activists say that governments have instead pushed forward with the “war on drugs” and its harmful policies.
On February 21, 2017, a first national day of action was held across Canada to demand that the various levels of government take meaningful and concrete action to address the opioid overdose epidemic devastating communities across the country. Participants in rallies and marches demanded concrete actions to put an end to the war on drugs, remove barriers to health care, and implement policies that are informed by real life experiences of people who use drugs and providers.
Placards prepared for the National Day of Action on the Overdose Crisis event in Nanaimo
These national coordinated actions are being organized and led by people who use drugs, drug user groups/unions, harm reduction workers and our allies. We are a part of communities who are most impacted by overdose and overdose death. Thousands of people have died while all levels of governments have done very little to make us central to the response to this overdose crisis, to see us and work with us as experts and frontline responders and create real lasting solutions. We know the solutions and we will not stand by while more people die from preventable deaths.
Nanaimo action included rally at Diana Krall plaza, march to City Hall
Nanaimo activists marched to City Hall during the National Day of Action on the Overdose Crisis
Local organizers Isabel Flood, Kevin Donaghy and Jeremy Kalicum created a unique opportunity for Nanaimo citizens to come out on February 21, 2017 and show their concern for local high rates of overdose deaths related to opioid drugs. They organized and led a rally at Diana Krall plaza with speakers Isabel Flood, Tillicum Lelum representative Courtney DeFriend, addiction specialist Dr. Patricia Mark, and representatives from the drug-using community. Participants marched to City Hall, where Leslie McBain of Moms Stop the Harm spoke. A wooden coffin, filled with the names of people who have died from overdose in Nanaimo and elsewhere, was placed on the steps of City Hall.
Tillicum Lelum manager Courtney DeFriend, Moms Stop the Harm advocate Leslie McBain,
and Nanaimo National Day of Action organizer Isabel Flood
chatting just before the start of the rally at Diana Krall Plaza in Nanaimo
Listen to a podcast with audio from the presentations below. Isabel Flood speaks at 01:00; Courtney DeFriend at 05:18; Amy at 13:54; Dr. Patricia Mark at 16:03; and Leslie McBain at 22:09.
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— People First Radio (@peoplefirstrad) February 27, 2017