Advocates urge province to unfreeze funding for supervised-injection sites

CBC New, June 3, 2019

The UCP government's decision to freeze funding for new supervised injection sites in Alberta increases the risk of people dying of an overdose, say advocates on the front line of the opioid crisis.

"It's very distressing because we know that these sites save lives," said Petra Schulz, an Edmonton mother who lost her son to a fatal overdose in 2014.

She is the founder of Moms Stop the Harm, a group that advocates for a harm-reduction approach to fighting addiction.

It's imperative the UCP government continue to fund the efforts currently in place, she said.

"We are just hoping that this investment will be in measures that are evidence-based, measures that save lives."

Advocates urge province to unfreeze funding for supervised-injection sites

Three Alberta supervised drug-use sites on hold as UCP government freezes funding

By Madeline Smith Star Calgary

Nadine Yousif Star Edmonton

Mon., June 3, 2019

Petra Schulz of Edmonton is a co-founder of Moms Stop the Harm, a coalition of people across Canada who have family members who have died from drug-related harms.

Her son, Danny, died after an accidental overdose in 2014, and she’s since become an advocate for harm-reduction strategies, including supervised consumption sites.

“For those of us who watch it and have been through it, it’s almost traumatizing,” Schulz said.

“When you see the death toll mounting again and government standing in the way of what saves lives, it really throws you back deeply into your grief.”

Three Alberta supervised drug-use sites on hold as UCP government freezes funding

Proposed $1.1-billion class-action suit targeting opioid drug makers filed in Ontario

The Globe and Mail, May 15, 2019

A Toronto law firm is suing more than two dozen pharmaceutical companies, accusing them of manufacturing an opioid epidemic that has killed thousands of Canadians and of reaping “obscene” profits through a “false and deceptive” marketing campaign.

Dr. Darryl Gebien [MSTH], the representative plaintiff, became addicted to opioids a decade ago when he took Percocet painkillers after a ligament injury in his thumb. He then switched to fentanyl, a powerful opioid that has been linked to numerous overdose deaths.

Proposed $1.1-billion class-action suit targeting opioid drug makers filed in Ontario

Four academics write to province in support of Medicine Hat's supervised consumption site

Chat News Today, May 17, 2019

Four academics [including two MSTH allies] from across Western Canada have written a letter in support of Medicine Hat’s site.

It was sent Thursday evening.

Doctor Rebecca Haines-Saah, assistant professor for the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary says they believe that had to speak up about the facts.

“I don’t see this letter as being a negative or an attack,” says Dr. Haines-Saah. “It’s really saying ‘here’s what the evidence says and we’d like to have some conversations about this, and we’d like to be resource to you.’”

Four academics write to province in support of Medicine Hat's supervised consumption site

Guest Column: It’s a health issue, not a moral issue

MEDICINE HAT NEWS OPINION ON MAY 17, 2019

MSTH Dana Dmytro, who lost her brother to died from addiction related harms, writes:

Without the SCS, people will continue to use drugs in public places, including restrooms, alleys and parks. They will also continue to use alone where they die alone. SCSs engage the most marginalized and vulnerable in our community with the health care system. When others treat them with compassion and dignity, they are more likely to see themselves as worthy of care. When they are offered services by someone who works at an SCS with whom they have developed a relationship, they are that much more likely to accept those services.

Guest Column: It’s a health issue, not a moral issue

Special Report: Mother fights to decriminalize illicit drugs

Victoria News, May 3, 2019

Vancouver Island woman started advocacy group after losing her son in 2014

Leslie McBain is the mother of a young man who died a tragic and preventable death. But she is anything but complacent in her grief.

She can be seen in government-issued overdose awareness campaigns, involved in the creation of grieving and bereavement resources, the family engagement lead for the BC Centre on Substance Use, and as a co-creator of Moms Stop the Harm – a group that believes the criminalization of drug use is at least partly to blame for the deadly overdose epidemic sweeping North America.

Special Report: Mother fights to decriminalize illicit drugs

B.C. woman looks for spot to show overdose display blessed by Pope

The Free Press, April 30, 2019

Judith Conway created a large display representing people who have died from opioid overdoses.

Judith Conway travelled from her home on Vancouver Island, across the world, to visit his Holiness Pope Francis in March and receive a blessing on a carefully folded series of flags and ribbons.

On each flag and ribbon is a name, and along with them are 4,000 strands of yarn which each represent someone who died of an opioid overdose in Canada.

B.C. woman looks for spot to show overdose display blessed by Pope

Family and friends gather to remember loved ones who died of overdose

Times Colonist, April 23, 2019

Sitting in a circle at Christ Church Cathedral on Tuesday, as light streamed through the stained glass windows, almost 40 parents, grandparents, siblings and friends who had lost a loved one to a drug overdose rose to light a candle.

It was a memorial to bring hope and remembrance, but there was some solace in the common heartache and loss.

Family and friends gather to remember loved ones who died of overdose

Victoria crowd rallies for action on overdose crisis

Victoria News, April 16, 2019

The protesters, which included members of the Society of Living Illicit Drug Users (SOLID), Aids Vancouver Island (AVI), Moms Stop the Harm as well as other advocates and harm reduction workers, marched from Centennial Square to the Ministry of Health building at 1515 Blanshard Street, calling for safe supply, compassionate policy change and decriminalization of single-use drugs.

“Safe supply can be done,” said Victoria-based harm reduction nurse Marilou Gagnon, in an address to the crowd. “It is cost effective…it saves lives.”

Victoria crowd rallies for action on overdose crisis

School of Public Health videos aim to tackle stigma around drug use

The Gateway, April 17, 2019

A joint project between three universities is sharing the stories of parents [including 3 members of MSTH] who have lost a child to drug use.

Released last month, the project is a joint research effort between the University of Alberta’s School of Public Health, the O’Brien Institute for Public Health at the University of Calgary, and the School of Nursing at the University of British Columbia. Part of the project includes videos of the parents they interviewed narrating letters they wrote to their child who died by substance use.

School of Public Health videos aim to tackle stigma around drug use

Regulate supply or deaths will continue, hundreds cry in Vancouver's annual march to end the overdose crisis

The Straight, April 26, 2019

“There are thousands dying in this country because of unsafe drugs,” said Louise Cameron of Moms Stop the Harm, a group of parents who have lost children to the overdose epidemic. “Until we have a modality of care in place where there is access to treatment for people who want it, and no barriers to that, we need to keep people alive. To keep people alive, we need a safe drug supply. No one can recover from death.”

Regulate supply or deaths will continue, hundreds cry in Vancouver's annual march to end the overdose crisis

AIDS Saskatoon holds event for National Day of Action on the Overdose Crisis

The AIDS Saskatoon gathering allows members of the community to share stories and commemorate people lost to overdoses.

The Star Phoenix April 16, 2019

“Criminal justice efforts and community shaming is not going to fix the overdose crisis,” advocate Marie Agioritis said.

“Unless the community at large takes enough of a sympathetic ear to actually understand the pragmatic side of why we should help, the cost associated, and so on, we’re not going to see any change.”

Agioritis is the Saskatchewan regional leader for Moms Stop the Harm, an advocacy group formed in 2016 by a group of mothers across Canada who had lost children to overdoses. The group is one of the community-based organizations participating in Saskatoon’s National Day of Action on the Overdose Crisis on April 16.

AIDS Saskatoon holds event for National Day of Action on the Overdose Crisis

Drug-policy advocates plan parade through downtown Vancouver as united call for "safe supply"

Travis Lupick, The Straight, April 9, 2019

The theme for this year’s Vancouver event is “safe supply”.

Leslie McBain is a B.C. member of Moms Stop the Harm, a national group of parents who advocate for drug-policy reform. She explained that a regulated supply of pharmaceutical opioids will spare people who use drugs from the deadly risks of unknown substances purchased on the street.

“People who are addicted to opioids, people who are dependent, and recreational users, have no way of knowing what they are getting,” McBain told the Straight. “It’s a crap shoot for everybody. People do not have access to the harm-reduction services that they need to not die from a toxic supply.”

Last year, 87 percent of illicit-drug overdose deaths in B.C. involved the dangerous synthetic-opioid fentanyl, according to the province's coroners service. That’s up from just 15 percent five years earlier, in 2013.

“We need to stop these deaths,” McBain said. “The only way we are going to make an impact on how many people are dying is by offering a safe supply of drugs.”

Drug-policy advocates plan parade through downtown Vancouver as united call for "safe supply"

Red Deer drug consumption site in question under UCP

SUSAN ZIELINSKI, The Red Deer Advocate, Apr. 9, 2019

“It feels like a kick in the stomach to everybody who’s lost someone. Their lives matter. They mattered to somebody,” said Deborah Watson, central Alberta spokeswoman with Moms Stop the Harm.

“We’re talking about a life-saving measure. It’s vital,” said Watson, who compared the life-saving capacity of drug consumption sites to defibrillators in malls.

Red Deer drug consumption site in question under UCP

Casualties of the OD crisis remembered in Kelowna

Kelowna Capital News, April 9, 2019

For Helen Jennens, the 645 candles set up in the lobby of the Interior Health building Monday were more than just a reminder of local lives lost to the overdose epidemic.

“In my view it’s kind of like saying, ‘We’re sorry. We didn’t know what to do or how to do it,’” said the Kelowna woman, who lost two sons to the crisis.

Casualties of the OD crisis remembered in Kelowna

Overdose support group wants more detox facilities

Winnipeg Sun, April 8, 2019

An overdose support and advocacy group is calling on the public to help pressure the province into providing more medically-assisted detox facilities and funding for long-term treatment and support.

Arlene Last-Kolb said she’s been calling for more support to help people kick addictions since serving on various committees after the death of her son Jessie from a fentanyl overdose in July 2014, and the need has never been greater than now, in the midst of a meth crisis.

Overdose support group wants more detox facilities

Video series turns stories of personal tragedy into potent call to action

By Brittany DeAngelis, UofC O'Brien Institute for Public Health, March 18

Phil Haug, Donna May, Kym Porter, and Petra Schulz are united in purpose. Each are parents of children who died either directly or indirectly because of drug use — and they say enough is enough.

These four parents are not alone. Every day, 11 Canadians die from causes related to using opioids, mainly overdoses, according to federal government data. And behind this alarming statistic are the friends, families, and communities left behind.

Today, researchers from the University of Calgary, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Alberta, along with advocacy groups from across Canada, launched the video series See the Lives, featuring bereaved parents who have become advocates — with a message that their children are more than just statistics, and that more needs to be done to prevent further deaths.

“We are really losing a generation,” says Petra Schulz, from Edmonton, who is featured in one of the four videos and whose son, Danny, died of an accidental overdose in 2014 when he was 25 years old.

Video series turns stories of personal tragedy into potent call to action

Airdrie mother wants to see more support for parents of youth battling fentanyl addiction

Calgary Herald Updated: July 20, 2017

Before her daughter admitted being addicted to the potent opioid in May 2016, Shawna says she was just like any parent, seeing fentanyl on the news, never thinking it was something that would affect her family.

Having experienced it now as a mother, Shawna wants to see more public education for parents about the drug.

“I don’t think it’s just the kids that need to be educated,” she says. “I think it’s parents that need to be educated as well.

“I think that we need to teach parents to talk to kids, to say things like: ‘This isn’t something that we want you to get involved in. But if you do and it becomes out of control, don’t be scared to come talk to us.’ ”

She also hopes to help set up a support group for parents in a similar situation, and has spoken with established groups such as Moms Stop the Harm and Changing the Face of Addiction.

Airdrie mother wants to see more support for parents of youth battling fentanyl addiction