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Black Balloon Day: remembering those lost to opioids

Black Balloon Day is a day of commemoration to remember those lost to overdose and other substance-related harms

She lost two sons to drug overdoses, but Helen Jennens is still fighting to save other people’s loved ones.

Jennens and members of Moms Stop the Harm, gathered near the sails in downtown Kelowna Sunday afternoon for Black Balloon Day. It’s a day of commemoration in several Canadian cities to remember those lost to overdose and other substance-related harms.

They are trying to break down the stigma and stereotypes.

Many of those who die from opioid overdoses in B.C. and other parts of Canada aren’t street-level users. They tend to be working men, often in their 30s, 40s or even older, who are using at home and alone.

“It’s the people that the stigma keeps behind closed doors, that are in hiding. And they’re using their drugs alone and they have no idea what’s in the drugs anymore because the market is so toxic,” explained Jennens.

She wants governments to seriously consider decriminalization.

“We need to build a recovery system, you know, treatment centres. We need awareness and education and prevention, but in the meantime, seven people die a day in British Columbia because the drugs are so lethal.

“We need to provide a safe supply. Somebody in substance use that is going to the black market will never have a chance to recover because they’ll probably die from a poisoning.”

Until more is done to curb the opioid crisis in B.C., Helen will continue to do what she can to raise awareness in hopes it will keep someone else’s son or daughter alive.