Dozens of people gathered at Centennial Square in Victoria tonight for a candlelight vigil to mark International Overdose Awareness Day.
It was a particularly emotional event this year given the recent spike in fatal drug overdoses on Vancouver Island.
“The idea of the vigil tonight is to honour the lives of the people we have lost over the last couple of years, ” said organizer Katie Lacroix of Yes 2 Supervised Consumption Services.
“We’ve seen an unprecedented amount of people dying.”
Those in attendance lit candles as several people spoke about what can be done to fight the problem.
The surge in the presence of the opioid fentanyl is being blamed for the huge rise in the number of fatalities on Vancouver Island.
There were 36 OD deaths in Victoria alone in the first six months of the year and there is expected to be 800 across the province in 2016.
In April, B.C.’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Perry Kendall declared a public health emergency.
Activists including Lacroix are demanding the establishment of so-called safe-injection sites.
“People need to stop dying, and we want to see some action,” she said.
“We want to see people’s lives being saved through measures that we know work.”
Victoria has been invited by Ottawa to apply for an exemption in order to set-up a supervised drug consumption site.
The City is said to be working with various other groups to try to establish the service but a date has not been set and possible locations have yet to be determined.