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Car rally aims to drive away drug use stigma

Cars rally in Richmond for the Drive to Destigmatize on Sunday, April 14. (CTV News/St. John Alexander) Cars rally in Richmond for the Drive to Destigmatize on Sunday, April 14. (CTV News/St. John Alexander)
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Decked-out in purple, motorists in everything from hot rods to an old Ford pickup rolled around Richmond on Sunday, hoping to drive away stigma around toxic drug use.

The event, called Drive to Destigmatize, coincided with a grim anniversary: when B.C. declared the overdose crisis a public health emergency eight years ago.

“The reality is, people are dying in their homes,” said organizer Trevor Tablotney.

“My brother went to work, he went home, he did drugs, he was playing Fortnite at the time, and he passed away,” he told CTV News.

Tablotney argued that people forget that addicts and users come from all walks of life, and can be rich or poor.

Drive to Destigmatize organizer Trevor Tablotney is pictured on Saturday, April 14. (CTV News/St. John Alexander) The event is designed to let drug users know that there are people who can offer support, and that they are not alone.

“It’s easy for the suburbs to ignore this problem, but the problem is everywhere,” he said.

It’s a concern echoed by the provincial government on Sunday, who acknowledged “the catastrophic impact this crisis has had on so many people in British Columbia.”

“Every life taken by this crisis is a loss to our community—they are friends, parents, siblings and children. To the families, friends and loved ones: we see you, we stand with you and we share in your pain,” Premier David Eby said in a statement.

Since the public health emergency was declared on April 14, 2016, an estimated 14,000 people have died from toxic drug use.

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