September 1, 2017 1:09 am

Kelowna vigil remembers those lost to fentanyl crisis

Racine Cessford, 24, victim of fentanyl-laced street drug.

Bryon McLuckie/ Global Okanagan

A mother holds up a framed photo of her beautiful young daughter to show our camera. The woman in the photo is embracing a bouquet of flowers, a tranquil smile sweeps across her face behind the glass.

The 24-year-old girl in the photo looks like one of the kind girls you went to school with, perhaps thoughtful and quiet: someone who grew up loved and made to feel special.

Racine Cessford died because she had ingested a fentanyl-laced street drug.

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She, and dozens of others were remembered Thursday night at a candlelight vigil in Kelowna to mark overdose awareness day.

“She wasn’t on the street. She was an intern at a Christian school,” her mother Debbis Lewis told Global News. “She had a relapse and struggled with addiction.”

Looking at the photo, one would believe Cessford’s only addiction could have possibly been to rescuing stray animals – not illicit drugs that are laced with fentanyl like cocaine or heroin.

Condolences on her obituary page attest to that: “I remember Racine as creative, artistic and full of life.” … “Such a beautiful spirit.”

But the shock and sadness that now clouds her mother’s eyes has her begging for other parents to keep their eyes wide open.

“It’s important that the message gets told about how real everything is and how it affects so many people,” Lewis said.

“You don’t ever think it’s going to happen and it does.”

‘Moms Stop the Harm’ organized the vigil at Kerry Park, which included a Naloxone Kit demonstration and giveaway. More than 200 people attended.

The B.C. Coroners Service said 780 people have died in this province from overdose deaths to date this year with dozens of those deaths happening in Kelowna.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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