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Running for Aubrey: Grieving B.C. mom hits pavement to Penticton for safe supply

Jessica Michalofsky will be at the Peach at 3 p.m. on Sunday
Jessica is running 900 km to spread awareness about safe drug supply after her only son died of a toxic drug supply last year. She will be in Penticton at the Peach at 3 p.m. on Sunday. (Facebook)

Nelson mom Jessica Michalofsky’s marathon across B.C. to end preventable toxic drug deaths will arrive in Penticton, where local runners and harm reduction services will join her as she runs down Lakeshore Drive to Main Street, and finishes at Penticton’s iconic Peach at 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 4.

Michalofsky is running more than 900 kilometres from Nelson to Victoria as part of “Aubrey’s Run Across B.C. to End Toxic Drug Death,” passing through the Okanagan and stopping in communities for events along the way. She is running in memory of her son Aubrey, who died from toxic drug poisoning on Aug. 30, 2022. She is spreading awareness about the urgent need for safe supply.

“My message is that toxic drug death is preventable,” said Michalofsky. “This marathon is not just about my son Aubrey, but about all the lives that have been lost and all the families that have been devastated by toxic drug poisoning. It’s about the preservation of life and the belief that we can do better.”

She said her only son Aubrey was 25 when he died. He had recently graduated from Selkirk College’s Law and Justice program, where he received several awards.

“He was an average kid, really. He did not have an exceptionally difficult or privileged upbringing. He was sweet and intelligent. He began using drugs as an older teenager. He went on methadone in his early 20s and was very successful, despite some of the negative side effects of methadone treatment,” she said. “It’s during this period that he completed his studies. However, when COVID closed schools and disrupted public transportation to the village of Winlaw where he lived, he lost his social structure and access to his methadone program, which was 50 km away in Nelson.”

Last winter, Michalofsky ran more than 900 km around the BC Ministry of Health building in Victoria as an expression of her grief, and in protest of the government’s slow action to stop drug deaths.

READ MORE: ‘First-time users are dying’: B.C. mom runs across province advocating for safe drug supply

Michalofsky sees safe supply as a key resource in a spectrum of options available to people who use drugs.

“Those who polarise the issue and paint harm-reduction measures, like safer supply, as being in opposition to recovery miss the point,” said Michalofsky. “We need both, in order to save lives and support people to thrive. Toxic drug poisoning doesn’t just affect people living with addictions. Anyone who uses criminalized drugs is at risk.”

Michalofsky’s month-long journey started in Nelson and passes through Winlaw, Castlegar, Grand Forks, Osoyoos, Oliver, Penticton, Kelowna, Keremeos, Princeton, Hope, Coquitlam, Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Nanaimo and Duncan, before ending in Victoria on June 25.

Donations to support Aubrey’s Run can be made on a Gofundme page set up by Moms Stop the Harm.

Funds raised will be donated to Moms Stop the Harm and assist with expenses related to the run.

The goal to raise $5,000 has almost been reached within a few weeks.

Monique Tamminga

About the Author: Monique Tamminga

Monique brings 20 years of award-winning journalism experience to the role of editor at the Penticton Western News. Of those years, 17 were spent working as a senior reporter and acting editor with the Langley Advance Times.
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