International Overdose Awareness Day on Aug. 31 at Veterans Memorial Park in Langford will include training on how to use a Naloxone kit like the one shown here by Hermione Jefferis, manager of community health for AIDS Vancouver Island’s West Shore and Victoria locations. (RIck Stiebel/News Staff)

West Shore marks Overdose Awareness Day

Aug. 31 event will focus on remembrance and prevention

Rick Stiebel/News Staff

A free family event offers an invitation to remember friends and loved ones lost to overdose and an opportunity to learn how to save lives.

While International Overdose Awareness Day has taken place in cities around the world since 2001, Saturday, Aug. 31 marks the first time the event will take place on the West Shore.

ALSO READ: Special Report: Hidden demographic served by West Shore clinic

People attending a parents and caregivers support group and a peer support group who meet at AIDS Vancouver Island wanted to organize something similar to the International Overdose Awareness Day event held in Victoria for the past few years, explained Hermione Jefferis, manager of community health for the West Shore and Victoria AVI locations.

“We received a grant from the Victoria Foundation to run the parents and caregivers support group for people who live with people dealing with substance abuse,” she said. “Part of the funding allowed for the group to organize an event or project, and they chose to bring International Overdose Awareness Day to the West Shore. They are coming together with our peer-run support group for current and former substance users to offer this special event in the spirit of prevention and remembrance.”

Almost 1,500 people died from drug overdoses in B.C. in 2018. The number of people impacted by overdose deaths in Victoria and throughout the region tends to be hidden in the statistics for all of the South Island, Jefferis noted.”We know anecdotally from families, patients, first responders, and health care providers that there’s been a profound impact on the West Shore.”

ALSO READ: Decriminalizing drugs the next steps in fighting B.C.’s opioid crisis, doctor says

International Overdose Awareness Day takes place on Saturday, Aug. 31 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Veterans Memorial Park in Langford. The event coincides with the Goldstream Farmers Market so children can enjoy the water park and playground while the event is underway. There will be a picnic lunch, information tables, speakers and supportive resources, including overdose response training, and how to use Naloxone kits at 1 p.m.

For more information on the caregivers and peer support groups, visit avi.org or call 250-940-3605.


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