Memorial mural unveiled to honour victims of overdose deaths
VANCOUVER -- Families and friends of overdose victims now have a public way to show their grief and honour their loved ones, after a memorial mural was unveiled Monday in front of the Carnegie Community Centre.
The mural, designed by local artist Smokey D, features tributes to people who have died from overdoses, as well as blank space for anyone to write the names of their own loved ones.
April Desousa wrote a message of remembrance for her sister, Amanda, who died from an accidental fentanyl overdose.
"She had so much potential and she was such a beautiful girl," Desousa said, "it’s just so deadly out there," referring to the toxicity of the drug supply.
Experts have warned the supply of street drugs has become increasingly contaminated during the COVID-19 pandemic, because drug supply lines have been interrupted.
According to the B.C. Coroners Service, there were 175 overdose deaths in July 2020, the third straight month with over 170 across the province.
"There are solutions to this crisis which could immediately stop deaths that all levels of government could be involved in," said Sarah Blyth, executive director of Vancouver’s Overdose Prevention Society, which partnered with the City of Vancouver to create the mural.
Blyth is calling on the federal government to establish a safe drug supply and decriminalize illicit drugs.
Across the city, hundreds of shoes have been painstakingly tied to the railing of the Burrard Street Bridge by Moms Stop the Harm, a network of families affected by fatal drug overdoses.
The shoes represent the 909 British Columbians who have died from fatal overdoses from January to the end of July 2020. The shoes will eventually be donated to charity.
On Monday night, BC Place will be lit up in purple to commemorate Overdose Awareness Day, and Moms Stop the Harm will host a virtual candlelit vigil featuring musical performances and a message from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.