International Overdose Awareness Day is a global event on August 31st that aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma associated with substance use and drug-related deaths.
In 2019, AMK hosted an event at Riverside Park in Kamloops in recognition of this day welcoming community members, community partners, leaders in the field of health care and substance use and individuals and families with lived experience of substance use to share and grieve.
In addition, AMK facilitated the debut screening of the Photo Voice video, exhibited the Photo Voice project and unveiled the Mom’s Stop the Harm Memorial bench.
In 2021, AMK brought the community together again for an in-person gathering for International Overdose Awareness day. This time, 350 people joined AMK at McDonald park to remember, without stigma, those who have died and acknowledge the profound grief of the family and friends left behind. Event activities included: Naloxone and harm reduction education, poetry, hand drumming, food, art and a live streaming of the International Overdose Awareness day events from Victoria, BC.
As a way to mark the 5 year anniversary of the Declaration of the Overdose Public Health Emergency in BC, Addiction Matters Kamloops, in collaboration with Moms Stop the Harm hosted a walk-by shoe memorial titled "Lost Souls- Gone Too Soon."
With BC recording more than 7000 deaths from illicit drug overdoses since declaring a public health emergency in 2016 Addiction Matters Kamloops wanted to illustrate the profound and lasting impacts of this emergency.
In the midst of the ongoing overdose crisis, the Addiction Matters Kamloops Coalition (AMK) partnered with Exposure Photography and the Kamloops Arts Council to bring art to life with the Photo Voice project: Exposed.
Through this project, AMK offered individuals and families with lived experience of substance use an opportunity to share their personal experiences of substance use and stigma through photos; helping others see the world through their eyes. The final project was open to the public at a gala event attended by close to 300 people in Kamloops.
In response to the overwhelmingly positive response and continual requests to showcase this work, the Photo Voice project has been displayed at various conferences and community events and has been used to elicit meaningful dialogue and discussion.
AMK would like to acknowledge the Canadian Institute for Substance use Research and Interior Health for their generous support. In addition, AMK sincerely thanks the individuals and families who had the courage to tell their stories.
In follow up from the success of the Photo Voice project, Interior Health worked in collaboration with Joy Factory productions to develop an anti-stigma video highlighting a range of stories and perspectives from the larger Photo Voice project. The resulting video is now used in core substance use foundations training in Interior Health and has been shared at events and with groups to facilitate discussion and raise awareness about the stigma associated with substance use.
In partnership with Mom’s Stop the Harm, the Addiction Matters Kamloops Coalition worked to support the establishment of a memorial bench in the heart of downtown Kamloops, at Riverside Park. The bench offers a place of hope to those that are still searching for recovery and a dedicated space for family and friends to gather, remember and reflect. On August 31, 2019 AMK hosted an official unveiling and community event as a part of International Overdose Awareness day that brought together almost 200 attendees who shared stories and offered support.
The Addiction Matters Kamloops coalition supported the sold-out performance of Illicit at the Stage House theatre on July 18, 2018.
Illicit is a community-engaged arts-based research project from the Drug User’s Resource Centre (DURC) of the PHS Community Services Society, a non-profit that provides housing, healthcare, harm reduction and health promotion. DURC, which is dedicated to the rights of people who use drugs and alcohol, is a hub of arts and culture built by and for the people in this community.
Illicit illuminates the stories of the people who have made DURC what it is: a place of meaning, belonging, and hope. The project imaginatively explores harm reduction, drug policy and the life on the margins through writing, movement, music, theatre and visual art. As a compelling work of performance art, Illicit aims to viscerally and emotionally draw the wider public into DURC’s world.
The Addiction Matters Kamloops (AMK) coalition supported the Rural and Indigenous Overdose Action Exchange that was held in Kamloops in October 2019. AMK displayed the photo voice project at the opening reception and the photos were featured in the final report of the exchange.
The Addiction Matters Kamloops (AMK) coalition was formed in 2015 on the ancestral, traditional and unceded territory of the Secwepemc people to bring together community groups, organizations and individuals who are working in the field of substance use and are committed to increasing compassion and awareness and ending the stigma directed to individuals and families impacted by substance use. Since its start, AMK has lead various community projects and engagement initiatives and continues to be committed to supporting community level coordination and collaboration.