August 16, 2022
International Overdose Awareness Day – August 31

In 2016, our province declared a public health emergency due to toxic drugs. Since then, more than 10,000 people have lost their lives.

According to data released by the BC Coroners Service on Tuesday August 16th, at least 1,095 people have died in BC in the first half of 2022. “These were men, women and youth from all walks of life. They lived in our neighbourhoods, worked in our workplaces and played on our sports teams. Some lived ordinary lives, while others faced enormous challenges. All of them fell prey to the lethal supply of illicit drugs that is omnipresent,” said Lisa Lapointe, Chief Coroner.

Entire communities continue to be affected by this epidemic that does not discriminate. Many of us have been touched directly or indirectly by great loss. Talking about overdose can save a life. No more stigma, no more shame. Now is the time to act and end the stigma that is often associated with addiction and drug related overdoses!

International Overdose Awareness Day is the world’s largest annual campaign to end overdose, remember those we have lost and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind. This important campaign raises overdose awareness, and promotes action and discussion about evidence-based overdose prevention and drug policy.

August 31 does not only provide an opportunity for people to publicly mourn our loved ones in a safe environment without feeling guilt or shame, it also offers community members information about the issue of fatal and non-fatal overdoses, and sends a strong message to people who use drugs that they are valued. This day also opens the door to further discussion on overdose prevention and drug policy.

There are many events being planned for this day in BC. UFCW Local 247 staff and members will join the “Let’s Get Loud” rally for change, taking place Wednesday, August 31st @ 11:00 am in Victoria, BC. We will march to the Ministry of Mental Health & Addictions to shout that more must be done to end the tragic loss of life. This event will focus on advocacy and the need for our Governments to intensify their response to this public health crisis. Later the same day, an Overdose Awareness Day Vigil will take place at 7:30pm at the BC Legislature. Jill Cooper, prominent local musician, will join us as we remember our loved ones in words and music of remembrance.

Have you been affected by the overdose crisis? We invite our union members and friends to get involved and help end stigma and overdose! A complete list of events planned for this campaign (along with facts and resources) can be found here:

Members, if you’d like to join us for the “Let’s Get Loud” rally in Victoria or have suggestions on other ways in which we can help create change, please contact:

Ximena Mastrodonato (she/her)
Engagement and Education Coordinator

Remember, overdose can affect anyone. Let's talk about it, it could save a life!