Communities and organizations in the Interior 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 Acknowledging All Nations & Developing Unity, OneSky Community Resources, AIDS Network Kootenay Outreach and Support Society (ANKORS), Shuswap Indian Band and Dudes Club Society.
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.
Brittny Anderson, MLA for Nelson-Creston –
“Having family and friends nearby to support people recovering from addictions and other mental health issues can be so important. These First Nations and community organizations help people in our communities get the support they need while still having their close networks nearby.”
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.”
Alexis Hekker, prevention education co-ordinator –
“Tawnshi! The news that ANKORS has been awarded this grant comes with so much excitement and hope! We continue to see the impacts that COVID-19 and the overdose crisis have on our Indigenous peoples at devastating levels. In 2020, we lost so many to fatal overdoses and many of them Indigenous women. As a Metis woman with lived experience, I see this as an opportunity to create some true positive change for our Indigenous peoples in the form of harm reduction services, education, support and connection. I can't wait to see what ANKORS can do to support our Indigenous peoples further in the East Kootenays.”
Danielle Armstrong, health director, Shuswap Indian Band –
“Kuksetemc (thank you) so much for the great news on the success of this application. Our community is very overwhelmed and excited to be able to better support our membership for the next 12 months. Shuswap Band members have experienced great loss due to the opioid crisis over this past year and knowing we can bring in additional support to assist with the healing of our members is so amazing! I look forward to sharing our success stories.”
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