Saturday marked International Overdose Awareness Day, and one Winnipeg support group is going above and beyond to make sure those who need support get it before it’s too late.
“It’s a day to remember those we have lost,” said Rebecca Rummery, who lost her boyfriend to an overdose. “It’s a day to end the stigma and it’s a day to remember those who’ve suffered a permanent brain injury because of an overdose.”
Rummery and Arlene Last-Kolb, who lost her son to a fentanyl overdose, began Overdose Awareness Manitoba in August 2018.
It’s a support group for families who are dealing with situations similar to what Rummery and Last-Kolb have gone through.
The pair do everything from handing out purple ribbons to making brochures available at hospitals to let families who have just lost a loved one know they are not alone.
“I believe that our families, by sharing their stories, their children have saved lives,” says Last-Kolb.
In July, the pair worked with the City of Winnipeg to set up a memory garden in a section of Stephen Juba Park to remember overdose victims.
“Along with the pictures on the trees, we asked 20 loved ones to come out to the human rights museum on Thursday and we took a group picture of us all holding our loved one’s picture,” Last-Kolb said.
Both women want to see more support for people in the midst of opioid addiction.
“We can’t have a waitlist, we need immediate access and we need the medically assisted detox and we need the long-term treatment that is accessible and affordable to people,” says Rummery.
Rummery says they’re also advocating for an easier way for people to get their hands on overdose reversal drugs.
“We would like to see Narcan and naloxone available free of charge. Right now you have to pay for it.”
In 2018, 4,460 Canadians lost their lives following an opioid overdose.
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