No one needs to die’: says grieving mother at awareness photo shoot for the opioid crisis

It was an emotional scene as family and friends who have lost loves ones in the opioid crisis carried large white crosses down to Jericho Beach in Vancouver.

That is where advocacy group, Moms Stop The Harm gathered for a photo shoot.

“This crisis, this epidemic, this pandemic is completely inclusive,” says Marina Richards.

“It is affecting everyone’s life.  I don’t think I really know anyone who hasn’t been touched at some level.”

(Marina Richards from Moms Stop The Harm has a loved one struggling with addiction and recently lost two nephews from overdose. Photo: Laurie Hamelin/APTN)

Opioid addiction doesn’t discriminate.

Everyone here at the popular beach spot has lost loves ones to overdose.

Richards has a loved one struggling with addiction and recently lost her two nephews to overdose.

She is part of Moms Stop The Harm, a grassroots organization that started with three mothers that lost their children to drug poisoning.

“It is an organization that has given me back my ability to breathe because when you are dealing with overdose and the potential that your child or loved one could die at any time because of how toxic the drug supply is, it’s absolutely grueling, it’s brutal,” says Richards.

The opioid crisis affects every part of the country and Canada’s West Coast is the hardest hit.

Since 2016 over 36 hundred people have lost their lives in B.C. alone.

And Moms Stop The Harm is hoping this photo shoot will help call attention to the crisis.

“We need policy change, we need our government to pay attention, we need Trudeau to pay attention,” says Richards.

“Some are listening, but there has been no real action.  And it’s because of stigma,  there is such a stigma with drug use, substance use.  People think ‘oh it’s a choice’ but that is not true.”

Jasmine Wilson’s partner of seven years died of drug poisoning in 2018.

Jordan Carhoun was sold pure fentanyl thinking it was heroin.

“I’m here to raise awareness that it can happen to anybody and making sure that Jordan is remembered because he was an amazing person and often people see drug addiction as something that is frowned upon and disgusting,” says Wilson.

“And I just want to raise awareness that it needs to be brought up to light and we shouldn’t be viewing somebody that has an addiction issue as the issue itself.”

(Jasmine Wilson’s partner of 7 years, Jordan Carhoun, died of drug poisoning in August 2018. Photo: Laurie Hamelin/APTN)

Both Wilson and Richards say that a safe drug supply and decriminilaztion is needed in order to prevent more overdose deaths.

“No one needs to die,” says Richards.

“So much of this is absolutely preventable, it does not have to be this way.”

Vancouver’s Moms Stop The Harm hopes to some day see these photos become ads on busses, just like a similar photo taken in Kelowna by the Okanagan-based chapter.

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