Cowichan Tribes grapples with suspected drug overdose deaths

Cowichan Tribes grapples with suspected drug overdose deaths
WatchFour members of Cowichan Tribes have died from suspected drug overdoses in the past month. The latest claimed the life of a 14-year-old girl.

Island Health is issuing another urgent warning tonight in Victoria, Nanaimo and the Cowichan Valley about drug overdoses caused by stimulants and opioids.

Members of the Cowichan Tribes are painfully aware of the gravity of the situation. They say their community is being devastated by deadly overdoses, the latest claiming the life of a 14-year-old.

On Tuesday, they marched in front of three homes where they say drugs are being sold and they yelled at those inside to leave.

“He doesn’t care what’s in that needle. He doesn’t care about what’s in that pill. He cares about the money. That’s it and we’re trying to say no more we want our community back,” said Joe Thorne, the rally organizer.

Suspected overdoses are being blamed for the deaths of four Cowichan tribes members is the past four weeks.

The latest death last Friday.

It claimed the life of a girl who had just turned 14 the day before.

Her father was among those who took part in the march yesterday.

Rally organizer Joe Thorne says they want to force the drug dealers away by making life very uncomfortable for them.

“They shut doors and closed curtains and they were peeking through cracks and crevices. We saw them and told them we know who you are and you know what we ain’t done yet,” said Thorne.

Gwen Thorne also took part in the rally. She says toxic drugs are impacting far too many people including herself.

“I’ve lost a close friend to drug and alcohol and I have a nephew on the streets and he’s still on the streets today. We brought him home but the drugs won and he’s back out there again.”

Cowichan Tribes Chief William “Chip” Seymour is so concerned he put out a warning on social media today. He says the tribe has asked for more government funding to deal with the opioid crisis and the band’s council recently passed a bylaw allowing the band to remove guests from reserves homes.

“That gives us the authority to override the homeowner and we can remove them if we deem them unsafe for our community,” said Seymour.

READ MORE: Pilot project to distribute free opioids to select patients in the Cowichan Valley

Another rally is planned for July 28. Organizers are inviting all people concerned about the opioid crisis to attend.

They’re meeting at the Cowichan Tribes offices at 10 a.m.

Last month statistics revealed B.C. recorded the highest number of drug overdoses in a single month in May.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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