The East Kootenay Network of People Who Use Drugs is organizing a march to city hall on Wednesday, April 14, 2021, starting at 11 a.m. from the ANKORS office. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman file)

The East Kootenay Network of People Who Use Drugs is organizing a march to city hall on Wednesday, April 14, 2021, starting at 11 a.m. from the ANKORS office. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman file)

Advocates to march for overdose awareness, calls for action

B.C. declared the overdose crisis a public health emergency five years ago

Advocates will be marking five years of the province declaring a public health emergency in response to the overdose crisis with a march to Cranbrook city hall on Wednesday, April 14.

The socially-distanced march, starting at 11 a.m. at the ANKORS office, will end at city hall in an effort to raise awareness on the overdose crisis, a public health emergency that has worsened in recent years due to an increasingly toxic illicit drug supply, among many other factors.

The East Kootenay Network of People Who Use Drugs (EKNPUD) is organizing the march as a call to action, a memorial for people who have died, and a celebration for those who have been saved in overdose situations through use of naloxone kits, peer intervention and volunteer support.

A larger event with more activities and outreach initiatives had been planned, however, those were cancelled due to pandemic-related restrictions.

According to the B.C. Coroners Service, 1,724 deaths were reported in 2020 due to illicit drug toxicity — the worst year on record. Of that total, 18 deaths were reported in the East Kootenay region, 10 of which were attributed to Cranbrook.