HomeNewsIsland & CoastAlmost 200 people killed in B.C. due to toxic drugs, 31 on...

Almost 200 people killed in B.C. due to toxic drugs, 31 on Vancouver Island in July

Another grim number has been recorded in B.C. as 198 people were by toxic drugs in B.C. last month.

Of those, 31 people died on Vancouver Island and it marks the 13th month in a row where over 190 people were killed in the province.

This means a total of 1,455 people have died since January and the province says this is the largest number reported by the BC Coroners Service in the first seven months of a year.

“I am saddened to once again report that British Columbia’s toxic drug crisis shows now signs of abating,” said chief coroner Lisa Lapointe. “We are continuing to expereice record numbers of deaths provincewide because of the toxic drug supply.

“The unregulated illicit market is highly unpredictable and continues to put thousands of lives at risk each month.”

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According to the report, the provincial death rate is at 46.2 per 100,000 residents. Island Health rates at 52.4 per 100,000 and the highest rate is in Northern Health at 59.8.

The deadliest Island areas include Greater Victoria, recording 91 deaths year to date, and Nanaimo at 76 so far, according to the findings.

Mental health and addictions minister Jennifer Whiteside says the report is a reminder of the ongoing crisis.

“We hold in our hearts the memories of the 198 people lost in July in British Columbia – not as mere statistics, but as individuals who deeply matter to their loved ones and communities,” said Whiteside.

As International Overdose Awareness Day looms on Thursday, Island Health says they are hosting a digital memory wall to honour those lost to a toxic drug poisoning.

It can be found here, and other in-person events will be held up and down the Island by community groups. They include:

  • Campbell River – Spirit Square 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. education stations, speakers, candlelight vigil from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. Hosted by the Campbell River Community Action Team. 
  • Courtenay – Comox Valley Simms Millennium Park, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. Hosted by Comox Community Action Team in partnership with Unbroken Chain, Indigenous Women’s Sharing Society, and Moms Stop the Harm. 
  • Crofton – Crofton Park, 7 p.m. A Walk for J, hosted by a private individual as a public event. 
  • Duncan – Cowichan Tribes Si’em’ Lelum Gymnasium soccer field, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Dancers, drummers, BBQ, art, naloxone training, Kona Ice. Hosted by Cowichan Tribes. 
  • Ladysmith – Ladysmith Shelter (behind Rialto Apartments), 11 a.m. Info, resources, naloxone info, snacks. Hosted by Ladysmith Shelter. 
  • Nanaimo – Maffeo Sutton Park, 11 a.m.– 2 p.m. Meal sharing, speakers, grief-loss art therapy vigil. Opening by Snuneymuxw Elder Lolly Good, closing song from Patrick Aleck. Hosted by the Nanaimo Community Action Team. 
  • Parksville – Parksville Community Centre, 1-5 p.m., candlelight vigil at Community Park picnic shelter at 7 p.m. Hosted by the Oceanside Community Action Team. 

“Stories are important. They help us remember the people, places and moments that mean the most to us and allow people to share those memories with others,” added Whiteside.

“While we continue to work together to save lives to turn the tide of the toxic drug crisis, we also need to honour the people, families and front-line workers affected by it.”

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