For immediate release
June 8, 2017
Community Comes Together in Response to the Fentanyl Crisis in Vancouver, B.C.
Vancouver, B.C. –What does Vancouver have in common with Columbus, Chicago, Manchester, Winnipeg and Calgary? An opioid crisis. Whether it’s heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil, or spice, illicit substance use has taken a dramatic turn recently. Could this be a “canary in the coal mine” giving us clues into the current social cultural conditions and related systemic response?
According to the BC Corners Report, there were 139 illicit drug overdose deaths with fentanyl detected from January through February 2017 which is a 90% increase over the number of deaths during the same period in 2016. Much of the discourse thus far on this issue has been focused on men’s use but it is also important to look at the specific dynamics for women.
On Friday, June 9, 2017 Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS), Adler University and Central City Foundation are coalescing the community on this issue and the specific factors for women at Women and Fentanyl Crisis Panel and Community Café.
“This is a critically important event in aid of putting women’s voices and women’s experiences into the public realm. Our institutions, including the media, too often focus on numbers, not impact” said Janice Abbott, CEO of Atira Women’s Resource Society “The impact of a woman’s death can be far reaching and intergenerational. As a community, we need a considered and appropriate response”.
In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s the City of Vancouver had a four pillar policy for substance use based on four principals: harm reduction, prevention, treatment and enforcement. Since then, The Four Pillars section of the City of Vancouver’s website has no recent updates, there is no longer a drug policy coordinator and there haven’t been any recent progress reports on the policy.
Women and Fentanyl Crisis Panel and Community Café will begin at 10am until 2pm with panelists Janice Abbott, CEO of Atira Women’s Resource Society, Mebrat Beyene, and Executive Director of WISH Drop in Centre Society and Terriea Harris, Manager, Indigenous Women’s Program at Battered Women’s Support Services and emceed by Jennifer Johnstone, CEO of Central City Foundation. This event is a direct community based response to a serious social issue and is designed to help amplify community engagement. We will revisit models like Four Pillars and the Portuguese Model as part of the event.
“It’s critically important to recognize the role of women who are on the frontline of the crisis literally breathing life into people every day”, said Terriea Harris, Manager, Indigenous Women’s Program at BWSS, “ Women support workers, advocates and activists who in their actions are challenging the definition of “first responder”.”
“In keeping with our long-standing commitment to bringing neighbours together to build hope in our community, Central City Foundation is pleased and proud to support our community partners and this critical dialogue on the devastating impacts of the Fentanyl crisis on women and to help seek solutions to this crisis” said Jennifer Johnstone, CEO of Central City Foundation.
Janice Abbott, CEO of Atira Women’s Resource Society
Jennifer Johnstone, CEO Central City Foundation
Phone: (604) 787-5286
Terriea Harris, Manager, Indigenous Women’s Program at Battered Women’s Support Services
Phone: (604) 652-1867
Opening and Territorial Welcome Audrey Siegl, Musqueam Nation
Sχɬemtəna:t, St’agid Jaad, Audrey Siegl, is an independent activist from the unceeded lands of the Musqueam, has been active on grassroots environmental and social justice-political frontline movements. Audrey has worked on raising awareness on MMIW, DTES issues incl housing, the Fentynal crisis, displacement and the connection between extraction industry projects and violations of First Nations, land and human rights.
Jennifer Johnstone is President & CEO of Central City Foundation since 2006, and has an extensive background in non-profit management and community resource development, including experience as a fundraiser, marketing and communications manager and non-profit executive for more than 25 years. Jennifer remains passionately committed to social justice and community investment and, throughout her life, has served as a volunteer in many capacities with various organizations at the local, provincial and national level.
If you are unable to attend Women and Fentanyl Crisis Panel and Community Café, catch Angela Marie MacDougall, Executive Director at BWSS on Roundhouse Radio’s Sense of Place with Minelle Mahtani at 11am, June 9, 2017 for more on this serious social issue.