Residents gathered to share the names of lost ones at the first International Overdose Awareness Day in Kelowna last night.
“It was amazing, it was absolutely amazing,” said organizer Helen Jennens, of Mother’s Stop the Harm.
Jennens wasn’t sure how many people would be involved with the event, but more than 200 people gathered for the Candle Vigil in Stuart Park and 127 naloxone kits were distributed during the day with demonstrations on how to use them.
She had tears in her eyes as around 100 people shared the names of lost loved ones.
“I thought shame and stigma would keep people down,” she said.
At the vigil “all walks of life were represented there,” she said.
“We really need to raise awareness around the issue of drug use, substance use, mental health and overdose deaths. There was a lot of people there who just had no idea how many families this is impacting. A large part of our community is suffering from this.”
“We can’t gauge the problem until we understand it,” she said, adding people are still stick in stigma and shame.
There was 18 service providers at the event in the morning where speakers shared their stories at Evangel Church.
Net year she aims to have more speakers and service providers.
“There was a lot of great support out there,” she said.