Workshops train 450 people how to respond to overdoses – British Columbia

Sekani Dakelth has seen first-hand the effects of the current overdose crisis in our province. That’s why she has spent the past month sharing her stories as part of the How To Save A Life: Front Line Stories series.

Dakelth is one of eight people presenting stories of both experience and loss.

Her message is one of acceptance.

“We’re in a constant state of mourning … if more and more people didn’t use in a dark, dark place, surrounded by stigmatization, they maybe wouldn’t have died. They could have used in the open and people could have been armed with naloxone and saved them,” she said.

The series, put on by Megaphone and the Overdose Prevention Society has trained 450 people how to recognize and respond to overdoses with naloxone.

“We really had two goals. One was to share stories from people with direct lived experience of the overdose crisis … and the other one was really to equip people all over our city with the skills and the knowledge to be able to respond to overdose when and if they see it happen in their community,” said Jessica Hannon, the executive director of Megaphone.

Hannon says that the stories help to build understanding and compassion to go along with the training.

“That combination of empathy and skill really has the power to save lives,” Hannon said.

Continuing the dialogue

The latest numbers from the B.C. Coroners Service show that more than 1,100 people have died of suspected illicit drug overdoses this year.

“We are on track for 1,500 overdose deaths this year and there is a lot more to do still,” said Hannon.

“Drug use is happening in all of our communities and we would do better to recognize that and respond with compassion, rather than stigmatize people and push people … into dark corners where they’re feeling ashamed and using alone.”

Both Dakelth and Hannon agree that the workshop series has been successful in educating non-drug users.

“I think this event series and the courage of the story tellers to step forward and share these really personal stories is part is something that needs to be a much bigger conversation,” said Hannon.

With files from The Early Edition

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