See results of our follow-up survey below campaign photos. More than 450 photos were sent to the Prime Minister, who so far has not replied to anyone.
Dear friends, fellow advocates and drug policy reformers,
We have all been feeling the pain of the rising death toll in the opioid crisis, as numbers of families in mourning grow. The actions of all levels of government are inadequate considering the magnitude of the problem. We need to see leadership at the top, starting with our prime minister, Justin Trudeau. Over the past months he has spoken on a number of issues, but has been relatively silent regarding this crisis and did not cover this topic at all at town halls this summer, that some MSTH members had a chance to attend.
To help him recognize how this impacts Canadian families we propose the following initiative, which we call the Do Something Prime Minister Photo Campaign starting on November 13, 2017 – on-going after that:
- Take a photo of your loved one (4x6, 5x7, or 8x10 – bigger is better)
- If you do not have a photo cut out a purple heart from construction paper and proceed. Also use a purple heart if you are sending on behalf of a person with living experience.
- On the back write
- their name [NOTE: If you are not able to use the actual name, chose a name, every person counts]; and the year they were born and the year they died.
- cause of death (e.g. accidental fentanyl poisoning, overdose, from substance use, using a drug that was laced with fentanyl, substance use related suicide, overdosed on prescription medication, etc.) and
- your relationship (son/daughter, brother/sister, spouse/partner, grandson/daughter, niece/nephew etc.). [NOTE: Multiple people can send a photo of the same person, illustrating how many are affected by each death]
- If you wish and have room, add a slogan. First, we tried to pick one, but our strengths as advocates is in our diversity, so write your own or chose from one of these: The Deaths Must Stop! - Stop the deaths! - Do something Prime Minister! (quoting Zoe Dodd) - How many more need to die? - Stop the deaths - save the future of your country - Why Are Canadian Children Dying? This Must Stop! - Somebody's Someone - Anyone’s Child - Empty Chairs - A Picture- More than a thousand words
- Use a regular envelope and write your return address on the envelope. You may also add that to the photo, so you can get a reply from the PM office.
- Send the envelope to [NOTE: no postage needed]: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Office of the Prime Minister 80 Wellington Street Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
- Please take a photo of your project and post it to one of our Facebook pages or email to Petra Schulz, so we can add the photo here.
Feel free to share this as widely as possible!
The families of MSTH
Here are the results of our follow-up survey, conducted in January 2018:
LOOKING BACK < MOVING FORWARD>
The 'Do Something Prime Minister' advocacy campaign was a success in many ways. More than 400 letters were sent to the office of the PM by MSTH Members and allies from other groups. And after that, 118 people filled out the survey to gather information and thoughts about the advocacy initiative. Thankyou to everyone who participated. Below are some of the common themes and suggestions that were offered about the campaign and some ideas on what MSTH could do next. Let us know what you think. (If you don't know about this advocacy campaign, a link in Comments will take you to that information)
THE SURVEY: Common Themes and Follow up Suggestions
COMMON THEMES OF COMMENTS OFFERED THROUGH THE SURVEY
1. Was a good way to get family and friends involved in the issue
2. Mail in campaign caught people’s attention on social media ( as opposed to on line messaging or petition.)
3. Got good media coverage which in turn may influence public education and understanding, empathy.
4. ‘do something’ message was weak. Rather than ‘do something’ could it have been ‘here’s what you need to do.’ Could have included information and action plan from MSTH on what the Prime Minister needs to do
5. disappointed that there has been no response from the PM office yet.
6. Campaign focused specifically on opioids/fentanyl. Could have included other drugs such as cocaine, meth, crack, ecstasy…given that a good number of the loved ones of MSTH members did not use opioids.
7. The campaign could have included images of those loved ones who are still alive and in recovery, not just those who have died.
8. A person who has worked on advocacy campaigns advised that putting the hearts on the outside of the envelopes was a mistake. Those receiving the letters might have just put them all in one pile and not opened them (yet).
9. The tone needs to be just right. “Research has shown that expressing anger and laying blame does not work. It puts people on the defensive and has the opposite of the desired effect…
The assumption should be that if they (the person(s) receiving the messages) were aware, surely they would be doing something about it.
In other words, instead of accusing them of inaction, you make it sound like you are giving them the benefit of the doubt... so you explain the situation to them.”
Suggestions for the Focus of Future MSTH initiatives:
1. Keep up the pressure on the office of the Prime Minister and send the key message(s) c/c to others such as Health Minister, MPs.
2. Education for front line workers
--doctors need more education on substance use
--emergency rooms need to be more responsive to those in distress due to mental illness and substance use
--anti stigma education for front line workers.
3. Education for youth
--have bereaved parents speak to youth groups.
4. A Campaign directed at Provinces, Members of Legislature given the Provinces have a lot of say in where Health dollars are spent.
--Tip: when mailing send Express post with tracking number
5. Campaign focusing on anti stigma
-increase understanding the addiction is a health issue.
(note: Both B.C. and Alberta have just released their anti-stigma campaign. Health Canada will be releasing their anti-stigma campaign shortly)