For the second time this month, family, friends and neighbours in the Cowichan Valley came together Tuesday to speak out against people who sell illegal drugs.
In a recent four week period, suspected drug overdoses claimed the lives of four Cowichan Tribes members. The youngest, Fairlie Johnny, had just turned 14.
Members of Cowichan Tribes rallied on Truck Road in Duncan for several hours, saying the saying the toll taken on their community is just too much to bear.
“We’re out here because we’re tired of drugs, we’re tired of the effects it’s having on our youth. We’re tired of young people dying,” said Joe Thorne, the rally organizer.
A number of those taking part in Tuesday’s rally say they know the painstaking impacts of the opioid crisis first hand. Gilbert Jimmy discovered his 43-year-old daughter Rachel had died of suspected overdose on June 29.
“When we got home she was already laying on the floor, gone. She must have rolled off the bed and landed on the floor and by the time we got there it was too late,” said Jimmy.
She had been living in their basement and battling a number of health challenges
Jimmy says the drug dealers have way too much access to the Cowichan Tribes First Nation.
“These people push it on to our people and young kids by coming around and giving it to them right there. They don’t even have to go out and look for it. They bring it down to them. We had them walking through our reserve day and night,” he said.
Stephanie Jim lost her brother Marvin in October.
“My brother was taking drugs thinking that they would be able to help out with his anxiety but when it happened with him it just really hurt,” said Jim.
Those rallying say solutions aren’t simple and more resources are needed to help those battling addictions.
“We need treatment centres. We need trauma centres, even for the people selling it. They have a story. They need treatment. They need help. They need to be able to identify this is what I did and now I’m sorry,” said Thorne.
And they say those resources are needed throughout the Cowichan Valley, not just on Cowichan Tribe’s land.
During the first rally on July 14, residents rallied in front of drug homes that have led to some of the suspected overdose deaths.