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Marking International Overdose Awareness Day

A ceremony and mural unveiling was dedicated to Squamish residents lost to the toxic drug supply crisis.

In the midst of the ongoing toxic drug supply crisis, some residents of Squamish gathered to mark International Overdose Awareness Day.

On Aug. 31, the occasion was commemorated with an opening ceremony from members of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) and followed by remarks from the Sea to Sky Community Action Team, which has a mandate of responding to the local overdose crisis.

Finally, there was an unveiling of a new mural at the Overdose Prevention Site.

The idea was first put forward by the late Sarah Jane Thompson, according to Jenna Becker, a co-ordinator with the Community Action Team.

"Sadly, Sarah Jane passed away from an overdose a year and a half ago, so she doesn't get to see the beautiful mural that was her brainchild," Becker said.

There was also a display, where participants were encouraged to place flowers on the table for each loved one they know who the overdose crisis has taken.

"Today is about raising awareness about the loss," Becker later told The Squamish Chief. "Today is about taking away stigma from folks who use drugs, and today is about coming together as a community to remember those that we've lost, and those that we've loved that are impacted."

One of the co-artists who made the mural, Gabriela Lech, said the mural's imagery was chosen following conversations with a number of community members about what should be featured in the work of art.

What resulted was a collection of images featuring mountains, medicinal plants, eagles, ravens and faces.

"The mural is a compilation of all those conversations we had, and, I guess, trying to incorporate those images of healing," said Lech during the ceremony. "I can only hope that's what people feel when they look at it."

The painting was created over a week in August.

Co-artist Louis Sobol was also a major contributor to the painting, as were a number of volunteers who came to help.







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