On March 6, Campbell Riverites will join people from around the world in displaying black balloons in remembrance of people who have lost their lives due to drug toxicity and other substance-related harms.
In 2021, 26 people lost their lives due to drug toxicity in Campbell River. To commemorate those who died due to the crisis, the Campbell River Community Action Team (CAT) will be facilitating Black Balloon Day, which CAT says “provides an opportunity for our community to come together to recognize the people who were lost to this public health crisis and support their friends and loved ones who are grieving.”
“Shame and stigma around substance use often make it hard for loved ones to grieve publicly for their lost family and friends,” said CAT Coordinator Gwen Donaldson. “Shame and stigma around substance use also make it hard for people struggling to ask their community for help, putting them at greater risk of experiencing a drug poisoning. We need to recognize that many people struggle with substance use and that many people have lost loved ones to this public health emergency. The more we are able to work together to meet people where they are, and accept them as they are, the more we will be able to work together to create positive change in our community.”
People are asked to look out for the black balloons on Sunday, both in the community and online.
“Black Balloons represent the lives lost to substance use,” said community advocate Lori Fitzgerald. “By taking part and displaying a balloon, it shows solidarity, connection, and compassion for our community, and those in it who struggle with substance use, or have lost their lives. Substance use doesn’t discriminate; so, we all need to come together to support one another.”
The Campbell River Community Action Team would like to raise awareness of this ongoing and accelerating public health crisis. If you would like to submit a story or photograph to be shared on social media, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or tag the Community Action Team in a social media post.
The CAT wants to encourage individuals, businesses, and organizations to join us by posting images of balloons, painting black balloons in windows, or displaying actual balloons at your location or across your social media channels.
Please be mindful of the environment by appropriately disposing of balloons, and please do not release any balloons into the atmosphere.
The Community Action Team has a list of resources for people who are either using drugs or know someone who is. The list is available on their website.