To recognize the importance of International Overdose Awareness Day, which falls on August 31 of each year, various events and demonstrations have been organized in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
One of the largest events was held at the Neighborhood House, 11739 223rd St., where the Maple Ridge Street Community Outreach Society (MRSOS) held a memorial brunch.
Visitors gathered to enjoy pancakes and other dishes, with the opportunity to sit among like-minded people and share stories with each other.
Debbie Picco, a volunteer with MRSOS and Stop Overdose Ridge Meadows, said the brunch was the first major event sponsored by MRSOS.
“This event shows people with addictions that there are other people who care about them,” Picco said.
“There are also many people working in the civil service here, and this gives them the opportunity to meet people who need it. And hopefully it will give a good mood to those who really need it.”
In addition to the brunch, MRSOS also organized a gathering at the Peace Memorial Park at 6:30 pm, as well as several demonstrations of purple chairs in front of satellite residences throughout the community.
MRSOS, in collaboration with the Narcotics Liberation Front, also distributed doses of safe, proven drugs to the public. Their act of civil disobedience was a statement about the need for secure supplies.
Tracey Scott, a member of MRSOS, explained that access to well-tested medicines is critical to society and that the government needs to act on this immediately.
“Everything we receive is double-checked and absolutely free of fentanyl,” Scott said. “There was not a single overdose from the stuff we gave away last year.”
“All of this is to prove to the government that ‘we can do it, so why can’t you?’ The government is clearly slow, and if we can distribute safe medicines in small doses, then they can do it on a large scale.”
MRSOS addict relief initiatives continue year round as they continue their fight to decriminalize drugs.
“There is an MRSOS meeting every Monday at 3:00 pm where all kinds of people can talk,” Picco said.
“You don’t even need to have direct experience with drugs. We have members who haven’t touched them a day in their lives and just love listening to others share their stories. And after that, we also provide everyone with food.”
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