Ahead of International Overdose Awareness Day, the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) traveled the region in a purple caravan hoping to raise awareness of the overdose emergency.
The Purple Ribbon campaign caravan set off from Upper Nicola Band Health Office on Monday morning and had made its way to Penticton by Tuesday midday. The Okanagan Nation Alliance rode through with the goal of raising awareness of addiction issues facing members and families across the nation.
“A couple of years ago we had a couple of youngsters who overdosed and it really stumped us that a lot of our kids are using, younger and younger, we hear 10, 11 year olds. Our elderly population has had deaths or overdoses. It’s high enough for us to create this movement,” said Kim Montgomery, director of mental health for the Okanagan Nation Alliance.
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At each stop, members of the ONA gave classes on how to use naloxone kits, shared information about the overdose emergency and how everyday people can work together to end the stigma.
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“When we talk about Interior Health and the First Nations Health Authority and the community, we all need to work together to figure out how to solve these issues,” said Allan Louis, health officer for the Okanagan Nation. “It’s not always about going to a treatment center, a lot can happen outside of the home or in communities, and that’s the trend we’re looking for.”
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The Okanagan Nation Alliance hopes that raising awareness will make resources more readily available.
“I think it’s incredibly important to be able to build these partnerships so that we have access to the resources that we need. We’re also able to leverage those resources and include our cultural perspective and perspective as part of those resources so it’s much more meaningful to our communities,” said Brenda Baptiste, director of drug use at Penticton Indian Band.
The ONA says the best harm reduction work they can do is to meet with community members and build relationships through a traditional healing process.
“We look at what works for us in the community and it’s country. It’s about being on the land, seeing the land and talking about our songs, talking about how we take care of ourselves, what our connection to our higher power is like, and how it all plays into our mental health plays,” Montgomery said.
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https://globalnews.ca/news/9096030/okanagan-nation-alliance-overdose-awareness/ The Okanagan Nation Alliance rides through the region to raise awareness about overdoses – Okanagan