Rural communities and non-profit organizations in the Interior Health region have received grant funding to support and expand localized overdose response and awareness effort.
The grants are aimed at providing live-saving supports, developing harm reduction policies, reducing stigma, and knowledge-sharing, according to a news release.
“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 recipients include Acknowledging All Nations & Developing Unity, OneSky Community Resources, AIDS Network Kootenay Outreach and Support Society (ANKORS), Shuswap Indian Band and Dudes Club Society.
Given the geographic challenges throughout the B.C. Interior, those in remote communities often have issues accessing substance-use programs or services.
“The news that ANKORS has been awarded this grant comes with so much excitement and hope,” said Alexis Hekkers, prevention education co-ordinator with ANKORS. “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 Kootenay.”
According to provincial data, Indigenous peoples and communities are disproportionately impacted by the overdose crisis, with higher overdose death rates as the illicit drug supply has become increasingly toxic.
“Kuksetemc [thank you] so much for the great news on the success of this application,” said Danielle Armstrong, health director, Shuswap Indian Band. “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.”
More than $1 million in grant funding is being distributed to 23 rural and Indigenous communities and organizations in the province.
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