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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Festival Plaza highlighted the support groups and service providers available in Fort St. John during Overdose Awareness Day on Tuesday.

The FSJ Community Action Team (CAT) hosted the event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to end the stigma, raise awareness and remember those who lost their lives to overdoses.

The event schedule featured tipi teachings, guest speakers and a ceremonial prayer and blessings from Doig River First Nation councillor Gary Oker.

The event also showed the resources and residents making it their goal to help fight the opioid crisis locally. Martha Funk, with the FSJ Community Action Team, says the community has a good base of resources but believes everyone has more work to do.

“That work is around loving each other, and that work is around building community. So, getting to know your neighbour, talking to somebody at work, so that people don’t feel alone,” says Funk.

Sharing a similar sentiment, MLA Dan Davies notes that most of the organizations aiming to raise awareness and provide resources for community members are volunteering their time.

“We have passionate people that care for our community, care for the people,” says Davies.

The North Wind Wellness Centre also had representatives stop by to talk about its new 40-unit addictions and recovery centre in Farmington. The centre all aspects of care for addictions such as prevention, detox, and aftercare. Funk believes the building will be revolutionary.

“It brings all of the care to one person in one place,” says Funk.

Construction of the first 40 units is expected to be completed in fall 2022, with a plan to reach 120 units in the future.

For those who had lost someone in their lives to overdose, a letting go ceremony also took place at the end of the event.

The FSJ Community Action Team is a large group of community organizations, health agencies, front-line service providers, and those with lived experience, all of whom are collectively committed to tackling the opioid crisis locally.

During the day of awareness, the BC Coroners Service released a report showing the amount of illicit drug toxicity deaths during the first half of 2021. The Northern Health region reported 65 deaths out of 1,011 across the province.

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