B.C. paramedics teach Lake Country community members how to properly use a Naloxone kit. (David Venn).

B.C.’s opioid crisis: From a mother’s loss to a community’s education

Lake Country has the Okanagan’s newest Community Overdose Response Education program (CORE)

As the sun rolls through the valley and glazes over Kelowna to give residents the first hint of summer, a woman sits at the cement picnic table across from the downtown marina at the harbour front.

City Park is crowded with people who are enjoying the warm weather on Sunday afternoon.

However, for the woman seated at the table, the day doesn’t have that same shine as it does for others.

“I used to have a son in his mid-twenties. He died,” she said, seemingly unfazed. “From an overdose.”

The Kelowna resident scrambles through her purse and opens a tangy-orange pill bottle; it’s filled with labelled spliffs (marked for indica or sativa).

She lights one up and takes a drag, “Happy Mother’s Day.”

READ MORE: B.C. has been the hardest hit by opioid-linked deaths in the past two years

The woman doesn’t wish to be named but instead wants for others to be informed about the issues surrounding mental health and addiction.

On the Tuesday following Mother’s Day, information boards, Naxolone kits, artwork, a collage of lost loved ones, a candlelight vigil and the white cadence of a ukulele lined the George Elliot Secondary auditorium for an event held by Lake Country Health Planning Society’s (LCHPS) new program, Community Overdose Response and Education (CORE).

Katherine Anger, a registered massage therapist, said she found value in attending the event.

“I’m in the health care profession and I think it’s important that we all have knowledge about what’s going on today and [with] society,” she said. “I’m really ignorant to all of it, so it is a learning experience for me.”

Anger participated in a Naloxone training station even though she stated she has never encountered a person who experiences problems with substance abuse.

“It was very easy to sit through the training,” she said, pondering when she will actually use the kit. “I don’t know what type of environment I’m going to find [an overdose incident] because I’m being told it’s in so many different areas in life right now. It isn’t defined just as the backstreet alley or downtown location.”

“[It is] 100 per cent positive that they are doing these type of small venues and small events because it brings people into it,” said Anger about CORE’s event.

The CORE program began in Sept. 2018 when LCHPS received a $75,000 grant from the Community Action Initiative.

The program has three goals, according to harm reduction outreach coordinator Craig Renfrew.

First to educate the public and explain what they can do to help someone else or themselves.

Second is to go into the community and meet with people who are experiencing problems with substance use and help guide them to the available resources.

“We’ll help them basically do whatever they feel that they need to do,” said Renfrew.

He said the program has had positive feed back during CORE’s first week of implementation, but it is too early to tell how to better optimize the program.

READ MORE: New opioid addiction treatment available in Kelowna

The final goal is putting on events and engaging the community.

In 2013, there were 333 deaths attributed to an illicit drug overdose in B.C., according to the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General. In 2018, there were 1,380 deaths related to drug overdose in the province.


David Venn
Reporter, Kelowna Capital News
Email me at david.venn@kelownacapnews.com
Follow us on Facebook | Twitter

 

On Tuesday, May 14, community members gather to educate themselves on the opioid crisis. (David Venn).

Just Posted

West Kelowna RCMP commander recognized with Order of Merit

Sgt. Duncan Dixon’s career spans an impressive 28 years with the RCMP

Okanagan school districts receive thousands for trades programs

The money is part of $1.37 million given to fifty-one school districts for trades programs

Former Kelowna-based B.C. Dragoons leader pleads guilty to possession of child porn

Sean David Parker pleaded guilty to possession of child porn on Monday

Rutland Residents Association files complaint with provincial obudsmen over low-barrier housing

Complaint claims low-barrier housing has had a negative impact on their neighbourhood.

Two UBC professors aim to bridge cultural divide through humanities

Humanities hubs have been created on both the Vancouver and Okanagan UBC campuses

Beauty boutique committed to cleaner, greener industry

The Green Vanity accepts empty product containers for recycling

B.C. man gets 23 years for murder of Belgian tourist near Boston Bar

Sean McKenzie pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of 28-year-old Amelie Christelle Sakkalis

Thieves smash way into Vernon business

Incident at Simply Delicious happened at 4:30 a.m. and was caught on video

Pot shop opens near Princeton on band land

A medical and recreational cannabis shop opened earlier this month near Princeton.… Continue reading

Bidders down, costs up on Highway 1, B.C. independent contractors say

Rally protests NDP government’s union-only public construction

Members of little people community applaud change to drop ‘midget’ term

‘It’s not about sensitivity,’ says Allan Redford, the president of the Little People of Canada

Two-month water advisory issued for some North Okanagan customers

Not a boil water notice, just an advisory as permanent fix in sight

Little progress in preventing sudden infant deaths since last report: BC Coroner

Coroners panel studied 141 sleep-related sudden infant deaths between 2013 and 2018

Most Read