Communities and organizations in the Vancouver Island 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 Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nations, Indigenous Women’s Sharing Society, Kwakiutl District Health Council, Ts’ewulhtun Health Centre, Dudes Club Society, West Coast Community Resources.
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.
Ronna-Rae Leonard, MLA for Courtenay-Comox –
“Trust is an important part of mental health supports, so it’s important that people be able to access culturally appropriate supports in their own communities. These First Nations and community organizations are doing great work getting people the care they need close to home, and I’m glad to see them being supported.”
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:
Building Pathways Forward Together – report from the 2019 Rural and Indigenous Overdose Exchange: