An abundance of loss

Words: Nathaniel Canuel, CDPC Digital Media Coordinator

Artwork: Smokey Devil, Vancouver Artist

So many in our community have been lost to toxic drugs that it’s hard to keep track. That’s a horrible feeling. We want to honour and respect each individual, so forgetting them, even for a few seconds, is such an injustice.

It is distressing to admit that so many people have passed that you can’t even remember them all. Who would have known when we were kids playing tag on the school field or skateboarding through the streets, that some friends would not be growing old with us? Who could have predicted that one day they would be alone and no one would be there to help when they needed it most? I wish I could go back in time and tell them how cool I thought they were; that I loved them. They enriched our lives, inspired us and contributed to our community. They were beautiful people who were ripped from us, leaving behind a dark hole that can never be refilled.

Unfortunately, nothing is changing, in fact it’s getting worse. We don’t know who we are going to lose next. Scrolling through my feed on social media, the dreadful news is almost anticipated and followed by frantic texts to learn the truth. As my head is flooded with the final memories I have of that friend, I can hear my own voice:

“Don’t give up; your daughter needs you.”

Those were the last words I recently shared with a friend who passed away soon after. Because of outdated, racist drugs policies, that little girl doesn’t have a dad, we’ve lost our friend and our community has lost one of its brightest spirits.

International Drug Users’ Remembrance Day is a time to remember the people whose lives were lost due to ongoing criminalization and stigmatization of People Who Use Drugs. On this day we renew a call for an accessible safe supply of drugs to end the drug toxicity crisis.

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