'No parent should have to bury their child': Grieving families call for action on opioid crisis
Dozens of families gathered on Jericho Beach Saturday, united in grief. Each white cross they held represented a memory of a loved one lost to the opioid crisis in B.C.
Organiser Sharene Shuster lost her 25 year-old son Jordan in August 2018. He thought he was buying heroin – but his autopsy result showed he had ingested pure fentanyl
“It's heartbreaking, because we all share this bond of losing children or parents that we've lost. No parent should have to bury a child,” Shuster said.
Jordan’s partner of seven years, Jasmine Wilson, says they were planning a life together.
“He brought a lot of light and laughter to the room,” Wilson said. “Losing him was earth-shattering. I miss him every single day, everything that I do just reminds me of him.”
Jordan was one of 1,541 people killed in B.C. last year. The latest figures from the B.C. Coroners Service show 690 people have died as of August this year.
Jordan’s family hopes the gathering not only provides support for others, but also sends a message. They want drugs to be decriminalized – to make them safer.
“My son did not overdose. If my son had smoked heroin, which he thought he had purchased, he’d still be alive”, Shuster said.
Last week, advocates rallied outside the NDP convention in Victoria calling for the provincial government to pass a motion to decriminalize drugs.
The premier didn't commit to supporting the resolution, saying only that the party would be "debating those issues" at the convention.
"We've been working tirelessly," Horgan said. "We've seen a decline in overdose deaths, but it's still not acceptable. We're going to work and look at new therapies, new ideas, new suggestions all the time."
That’s time Jordan's family will never get back.
“Every family meal we light a candle for Jordan, I have a little chair on the table with his name on it,” Shuster said. “I carry on because my son would have wanted us to carry on.”