Communities and organizations in the Fraser Health region now have extra support to expand local overdose response and awareness efforts through a provincial grant program.
“People living in rural, remote and Indigenous communities are best equipped to address the overdose crisis on the ground in their communities,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “I’m grateful for the wisdom and expertise of community leaders whose innovative projects are making a difference during two public health emergencies.”
The grant recipients are Lower Fraser Valley Aboriginal Society, Dudes Club Society and Spuzzum First Nation.
People in rural and remote areas face obstacles when it comes to accessing substance-use services. Geographic remoteness may mean longer travel distances to access health care and treatment, and access to Naloxone and harm reduction services can be limited in areas with low populations.
Through the grants, actions such as connecting people to life-saving supports, reducing stigma, developing harm reduction policies, relationship building and knowledge sharing will be funded.
First Nations people and Indigenous communities are over-represented when it comes to overdose deaths and an increasingly toxic drug supply has magnified the impact of the overdose crisis. Data from January to October 2020 shows First Nations people died from overdose at a rate 5.5 times higher than other residents in B.C.
These funds are intended to address these inequities by supporting community groups, service providers and Indigenous-led organizations to carry out local actions specific to the needs of their community. More than $1 million in grants are being distributed to 23 rural, remote and Indigenous communities and organizations throughout B.C.
Equitable access to culturally safe and effective substance-use care is a key component of A Pathway to Hope: B.C.’s roadmap to creating a system of mental health and addictions care that works for everyone.
The funds are being administered by the Community Action Initiative and the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions. The grants build off the work done at the 2019 Rural and Indigenous Overdose Exchange to address the overdose crisis at the local level.
Andrew Mercier, MLA for Langley –
“Every life that we lose to an overdose is tragic. Our government is investing in programs to support people and improve access to overdose prevention and addiction supports. This funding for the Lower Fraser Valley Aboriginal Society will allow them to take a nuanced approach and help save lives because they know the needs of the people living in their communities better than anyone.”
Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation –
“Intergenerational trauma stemming from a history of colonization and racism has given way to a terrible reality that Indigenous peoples continue to be disproportionally impacted by the overdose crisis in the province. This crisis has only intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic. This new funding will help those struggling connect with community-led, culturally appropriate programs, which is vital to support recovery and promote healing.”
A Pathway to Hope – B.C.’s roadmap for making mental health and addictions care better for everyone: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/british-columbians-our-governments/initiatives-plans-strategies/mental-health-and-addictions-strategy/bcmentalhealthroadmap_2019web-5.pdf
Building Pathways Forward Together – report from the 2019 Rural and Indigenous Overdose Exchange: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/overdose-awareness/rural-indigenous-overdose-action-exchange.pdf