With pictures of their deceased sons, two Kelowna moms vow to continue raising awareness about B.C.’s ongoing overdose crisis.
“My kids are dead forever. So I’m going (to raise awareness) forever. I don’t want your children to go where my children have,” said Helen Jennens of Moms Stop The Harm in Kelowna.
Jennens lost two sons to toxic drugs. She’s sharing her story with as many people as possible.
On Friday, she was joined by Pam Turgeon, who lost a son to the drug overdose crisis.
This week marks the seventh anniversary when B.C. declared a public health emergency because of toxic drugs.
According to a government report, there were 12,892 illicit drug toxicity deaths from 2012 to 2022.
“Seven years 12,000 deaths since we declared a health emergency,” said Jennens. “And we’re asking what does that mean? What does a health emergency mean if we allow 12,000 more deaths?”
The two stood outside a local business on Friday, raising awareness.
Jennens said a conversation will start, “and we tell them, ‘Did you know today was the seventh anniversary?’
“The first gal I talked to came in with her baby in a stroller, and I said ‘Well, this probably doesn’t affect you yet.’ And she said, ‘Actually, I’m seven years in recovery and it’s amazing.’
“It’s awesome. And then she told me what she’s doing and going into social work and getting involved in the industry to help.”
On Thursday, BC United party leader Kevin Falcon was in Kelowna, and he was seen visiting a controversial drug injection site on Leon Avenue.
“It’s awful,” Falcon said about the overdose crisis. “What concerns me most is the fact that every year we end up having the worst rate of overdose deaths that we’ve ever seen in the history of this province.
“And government continues to do more of the same, hoping to get different results. If we want different results, we have to do things differently.”
Falcon says his party’s plan would “overhaul everything that we’re doing today and do it differently. It would start by recognizing that we have to have purpose-built treatment facilities where treatment is the primary option.”
He continued, saying the “goal of government is to help people get off of their addiction and into recovery, and make sure that we’ve got regional centers in every part of the province so that we’re helping people get well again.”
Jennens says society is falling behind and that safe drug supplies are needed, along with prevention, treatment and recovery programs.
“As long as we’re afraid to talk about it, nothing gets done,” said Jennens. “There’s no pressure put on our politicians to make these changes.
“We need people to promote and have realistic conversations and talk to parents. Do you know what your kids are doing?”
Jennens continued, saying “we have people dying alone in their own homes because they’re too afraid to help themselves about their substance use. And we want to get to these people and normalize these conversations.”
Turgeon says the public needs to be angry over this issue.
“They need to call their local government and say look at other federal governments. You need to do something about this,” said Turgeon.
“We lost our children. We don’t want other families to go through what we do. We do this every day for everybody else’s child. So please, please do something about it. If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention, because people are dying.”