A Vancouver art display shined a light on the victims of drug overdose to mark International Overdose Awareness Day on Monday.
“Lost Soles: Gone Too Soon,” organized by the advocacy group Moms Stop the Harm, saw hundreds of shoes tied to the Burrard Bridge, each with a note representing the victims of drug overdose.
“(It’s) a visual display of all these people who will never be walking across the Burrard Street Bridge again — it might help inform people of just how many people (we) are losing,” said Deb Bailey, Moms Stop the Harm organizer told CTV.
Opioid overdoses are on the rise in Canada, with around 15,000 apparent opioid related deaths since 2016. Much of this rise is fuelled by fentanyl, an extremely potent synthetic opioid.
Cases of apparent drug overdoses have skyrocketed since the coronavirus pandemic began earlier his year, attributed to increased isolation and limited social services.
British Columbia has since seen overdose deaths increased 130%, with paramedics responding to an average of 87 cases a day.
Last week, B.C. reported that more people have died from drug overdoses in July than from coronavirus, homicide, car accidents and suicide combined. There were 175 overdose-related deaths in B.C. in July.
B.C. is proportionally the worst hit by the opioid epidemic, particularly with the increased presence of fentanyl and the coronavirus pandemic.
“This health emergency continues to take a tragic toll on people from all walks of life and in all communities of the province,” said B.C.’s Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe.