August 10, 2023
International Overdose Awareness Day – August 31

Overdose affects people and our communities in many ways.  According to data released by the BC Coroners Service this summer, about 12,500 British Columbians have died since the public health emergency was declared in 2016, with more than 1,200 of them happening in the first six months of 2023. This is an epidemic that does not discriminate.

The theme for this year’s International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) is “Recognizing those people who go unseen”. UFCW Local 247 honours the people whose lives have been changed by overdose. They are the family and friends grieving the loss of a loved one, workers in healthcare and support services, our compassionate co-workers, friends and bystanders who selflessly assume the role of lifesaver. Theirs are the voices we often forget and need to amplify; too often they are left to bear the burden of this crisis alone and in silence. August 31st does not only provide an opportunity to publicly mourn our loved ones in a safe environment without feeling guilt or shame, but it also creates a space for us to acknowledge and support the people in our communities who go unrecognized, by raising awareness on the hidden impacts of overdose and promoting education on overdose response. 

There are many resources available in our communities, here are just a few we’d like to share with you:

  • Moms Stop the Harm (MSTH): A network of Canadian families impacted by substance use-related harms, providing peer support to grieving families and those with loved ones who use or have used substances and advocating for changes to drug policies.
  • BC Bereavement Helpline: Provides free and confidential support connecting the bereaved to support services across BC.
  • Here to Help: BC Partners for Mental Health and Substance Use Information.
  • British Columbia Centre On Substance Abuse:  leading substance use and addiction research, education and clinical care guidance.
  • International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD): Resources and ways to get involved.

With education in mind, the following is a great resource:

We also take this opportunity to emphasize the importance of treating everyone with dignity and respect – this includes people who use illicit substances. Stigma makes people feel judged and alone, which can prevent them from asking for help. Treating people with respect can lead to less stigma and shame, which can save lives.

This August 31st, UFCW Local 247 will be showing our support by attending an IOAD community event being held at Douglas Park in Langley. The event starts at 5pm, with a memorial and awareness walk taking place at 6pm. We invite our union members and friends to join us!

There are many other community events being held around our province on that day, a complete list of events is available here. 

Purple Shirt Logo.png

Members wishing to be part of this important campaign can request a Purple Shirt by emailing or calling 604.535.8329 or 1.800.667.2205. To ensure that the shirts reach our members in time, all requests must be made by August 25 and include your full name, workplace and department, phone number (to arrange delivery) and preferred t-shirt size (unisex sizes Small to 4XL). First-come first-served, until quantities last.

We hope you’ll join in our efforts to make a difference; now is the time to act and work to end the stigma that is often associated with addiction and overdoses!

Talking about overdose can save a life. No more stigma, no more shame.