The City of White Rock came out on International Day of Overdose Awareness to encourage an open dialogue in combating the toxic drug crisis that is taking thousands of lives nationally each year.
Hundreds passed through Memorial Park while the Tides Of Change Overdose Prevention and Response Community Action Team posted themselves in the area to provide people with resources, and led a walk around the promenade and engaged in conversations with community members on Tuesday (Aug. 31) evening.
Tides Of Change is an organization that was formed after the drug overdose crisis emergency was declared in B.C. in 2016, encouraging a harm-reduction approach to helping those affected.
“When we first started, we had nobody to see because they were just so afraid of the stigma and police action,” said Priscilla Dutt of the overdose prevention team.
“They are regular people just like you and I, they just really want people to listen to their stories… We listen to them and that is more important than anything because they feel important and they feel a part of the community.”
George Passmore, Sources manager of addictions services, said that compassion is what’s needed most in order to help those facing addiction so they do not feel judged.
“South Surrey/White Rock is a caring community but we can’t care until we understand,” shared Mayor Darryl Walker, adding that education on the topic is one of the most important steps that needs to be taken.
A point that has been echoed by several members of the community is how important a safe drug supply is and that nobody who uses should do so alone.
“Each one of us either has somebody or knows somebody that has this disease, this illness,” Walker said.
Also on the promenade, was a food truck, where purchases were made by donation to the Phoenix Drug & Alcohol Recovery & Education Society.
White Rock has an overdose-prevention site (15521 Russell Ave.) with the Peace Arch Hospital, in collaboration with Sources Community Resources Society. It is open to anyone who wants to utilize the space. More info and hours of operation can be found at www.sourcesbc.ca/our-services/peacepointops/.