B.C. First Nation declares local state of emergency due to deaths from toxic drugs

Click to play video: '177 people in B.C. lost their lives to toxic drugs in February'
177 people in B.C. lost their lives to toxic drugs in February
The B.C. Coroner's Service says the number is actually an 11 per cent decrease from February of last year. However, it's the 20th consecutive month there have been at least 175 deaths caused by the toxic drug supply. – Apr 5, 2024

A B.C. First Nation has declared a local state of emergency due to recent deaths from toxic drugs in several communities last week.

The Tŝilhqot’in National Government (TNG), in the Chilcotin area of B.C., declared an emergency for all six Tŝilhqot’in communities, which provided the Nation the opportunity to access additional government support.

In a statement posted to its website, the Nation said the toxic drug supply combined with “the harms of historical and present-day colonialism” are contributing to more people dying from toxic drugs among Indigenous people compared to other populations in B.C.

“Drugs are a major problem in our communities,” Nits’ilʔin (Chief) Joe Alphonse, O.B.C, LL.D. (hon.), Tribal Chair, Tŝilhqot’in National Government said in a statement.

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“As leaders, we feel that our hands are tied. We need to act to not lose anymore lives. The RCMP know who the dealers are and need to deal with this. A State of Emergency is an opportunity to address this crisis.”

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Click to play video: 'B.C. breaks record for overdose deaths in 2023'
B.C. breaks record for overdose deaths in 2023

The Nation would like all ministries and levels of government to act together to end this crisis.

“Our people are grieving over the recent losses in our communities,” Alphonse added.

“We need time and tradition to heal while we search for Tsilhqot’in-led solutions. We call on the local health authorities to work with our communities and expand facilities to support our members who want treatment. Our thoughts and prayers are with those families grieving right now.”

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