Hundreds attend memorial honouring fentanyl overdose victims
The opioid crisis plaguing Metro Vancouver was the focus of a special interfaith memorial service that drew hundreds of people Thursday night.
The service in downtown Vancouver focused on loved ones lost, while also supporting frontline workers.
Peter Elliott of the Christ Church cathedral said the service was organized because no one was providing a place for the community to gather and grieve the hundreds of people who have lost their lives to fentanyl.
More than 900 people fatally overdosed in B.C. in 2016, and more than half that number have already died in 2017.
Organizers say many victims had lived in poverty, and friends and family maybe don't have the means to hold a service -- so this is a way to remember them.
"We don't think there's any reason for anyone to be ashamed –- to be sad, of course," said Elliot. "It needs to come out of the shadows."
The service was also for first responders, people on the frontline who know the incredible loss of life all too well.
"There is a need in the community right now to acknowledge the toll this is taking spiritually, emotionally, mentally -- and to gather and grieve if we are going to carry each other through this," said Jeremy Hunka of the Union Gospel Mission.
Friends of victims say many times it's not addicts who are dying, but normal people who had fallen prey to fentanyl.
"Nobody should die because of a bad drug. Nobody should die," said Elliot.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Julie Nolin