Photo courtesy Nicole Koran

Local advocates to mark International Overdose Awareness Day in Cranbrook

A local group of advocates are marking International Overdose Awareness Day this week.

The East Kootenay Network of People Who Use Drugs (EKNPUD), in collaboration with ANKORS, will be holding an event on Tuesday, Aug. 31, to raise awareness about drug overdose and the impacts on communities.

The event will be held in the parking lot at the Community Connections Society of Southeast B.C. at 209A 16th Ave. N. from 12 p.m – 4 p.m. and include activities such as Naloxone training, community-based resources, pop-up inhalation overdose prevention services, food by Healthy Caring Meals, drug checking (at ANKORS), live music, an art exhibit, a memorial to those lost, and more.

EKNPUD held it’s first inaugural event at Rotary Park last year to raise awareness on the overdose crisis and mark the same occasion.

It has been over five years since the province declared a public health emergency in response to the overdose crisis and Cranbrook, along with Salmon Arm, is one of the hardest-hit communities in the Interior Health region this year.

Last year, there were 10 deaths attributed to accidental drug poisonings in Cranbrook, as part of 18 deaths in the East Kootenay region, according to the B.C. Coroners Service. B.C. Emergency Health Services also reported that paramedics responded to over 100 overdose-related calls in Cranbrook in 2020.

This year, as of May 31, there have been seven deaths attributed to illicit drug toxicity in the East Kootenays and four in Cranbrook, based on the most current data from the B.C. Coroners Service.

Provincially, last year had the highest number of deaths attributed to drug poisonings ever recorded at 1,728. As of May 31, the BC Coroners Service reports 851 deaths for 2021.