“There’s really bad drugs out there and it’s freaking me out, our people are just dropping,” said Gail K. Gus, Tseshaht First Nation’s Crisis Care and Wellness coordinator.
She has noticed that since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, people in general have become more depressed and are turning to alcohol and/or illicit drugs to cope.
“Since the pandemic started we are seeing more cracks in an already weak system…if the government is legalizing small amounts of drugs for personal use then they should put money where it counts,” she said. “We need more healing, more detox and stabilization places and we need the government to hear and take action.”
Tseshaht is inviting all community leaders, stakeholders, First Nations leaders, government officials, front line workers, health care workers and others to take part in a two-day forum at Maht Mahs on March 27th and 28th.
“We are gathering to unify on a certified and fully funded detox center and stabilization unit as a common action item in order to address the opioid crisis,” says the Tseshaht invitation.
“There’s warnings every day about (lethal levels of) drug toxicity…it’s in the crystal meth, it’s in crack cocaine and it’s in the heroin,” said Gus.
She hopes to see Nuu-chah-nulth leaders at the gathering as well.
“There’s young Nuu-chah-nulth girls out there…some Nuu-chah-nulth nations don’t know how bad it is,” she added.
The gathering Tseshaht is holding falls nearly seven years since the province declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency on April 14, 2016. After a drop in fatal overdoses in 2019, tragedies escalated during the COVID-19 pandemic. With nearly 2,300 fatalities, the BC Coroners Service reported that last year was the second deadliest on record for deaths due to illicit drug use. At a rate of over six deaths a day, Fentanyl was detected in 84 per cent of fatal overdoses.
Gus’s vision is for the leaders to come together with a solid plan.
“We can’t continue to be complacent, things are just getting worse,” she said. “We need to get some grip on our wheels to get things moving.”
The Tseshaht First Nation Call to Action – Toxic Drug Crisis gathering begins Monday, March 27 at Maht Mahs from 9 – 4 p.m. Refreshments and lunches are provided.
For more information or to RSVP, contact Gail K. Gus at 250-731-6622 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org