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Peterborough marks International Overdose Awareness Day

In 2019, 25 people have died from a suspected opioid related overdose in the Peterborough area. That's five more deaths than all of last year. Mark Giunta reports.

Twenty-two people spent their Saturday walking from Peterborough City Hall to Millennium Park to raise awareness and remember those who have died from an opioid overdose.

Kelly Whetung was one of those who took part in the walk, which marks International Overdose Awareness Day. She lost her son Joey McColl to an overdose in December 2017. He was 28 years old.

“Joey was magnificent,” Whetung said. “He was really kind and cared about people. He loved his mom and dad and brother.

“He was a really good soul that got lost and couldn’t get out.”

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READ MORE: Peterborough experiences 3 more opioid overdose related deaths, police say

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According to the latest numbers provided by Peterborough police, 25 people have died in 2019 from a suspected opioid-related overdose.

As of Aug. 31, Peterborough police had received 180 overdose calls in 2019.

WATCH: (Aug. 29) Events are being held in Peterborough on Saturday for International Overdose Awareness Day

Events are being held in Peterborough on Saturday for International Overdose Awareness Day
Events are being held in Peterborough on Saturday for International Overdose Awareness Day

Lori Brock helped organize the Peterborough walk. She lost her best friend Brad to an overdose in 2018.

“In the last year, we’ve seen a massive spike. There’s been a lot of controversy in the community, whether we should have a safe injection site, or what Peterborough should be doing,” said Brock. “This is a good way to show awareness. No one is alone.”

READ MORE: PtboStrong hosting fundraising concert series to fight opioid crisis

A not-for-profit group called Ptbo Strong was formed in July to tackle the local opioid crisis by raising money for a healing centre in Peterborough through concerts and events.

“We want to be part of the solution for people who want help and break the cycle of addiction — a path back to normal life,” said Tim Burke, vice-president of Ptbo Strong.

The group is holding a concert on Aug. 31 at The Venue featuring an AC/DC tribute band.

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