Back on Track recovery house operator Cole Izsak (left) and South Surrey parent Maggie Plett (holding a photo of her son, Zachary) walk north along Johnston Road with dozens of others Wednesday, in an effort to raise awareness around the overdose crisis. (Tracy Holmes photo)

White Rock overdose march aims to reduce stigma, raise awareness

Community event drew parents, counsellors and more

The photographs carried along the route of yesterday’s overdose awareness march in White Rock had a common theme: young faces, with bright smiles that emanated hope.

But there was also a distinct sadness to their inclusion in the walk – all of them have fallen victim to the ongoing overdose crisis.

To name just a few: Zachary Plett, who died last December; Brodie Clements, who died in April of last year; Cheyenne Sekura, who died exactly two months before Clements; and Jerry Verge, aka Mecca, who died at the age of 31.

Remembering loved ones lost was a key focus of Wednesday afternoon’s march, which was held to mark International Overdose Awareness Day (Aug. 31) and drew dozens of people to gather in front of White Rock City Hall.

READ MORE: Overdose awareness march planned for White Rock

There were grieving parents and other family members, counsellors and recovery home operators, city officials and people who are currently in recovery themselves.

Several who were not carrying photographs of loved ones – and even some who were – made the trek through White Rock’s uptown neighbourhood, along Johnston Road to 18 Avenue and 152 Street and back, carrying placards with messages including ‘No more stigma, No more shame,’ ‘Unite for safe supply and decrim.’ and ‘Talking about overdose could save a life.’

Purple bracelets with the words ‘time to remember. time to act’ were distributed, and many who participated wore purple shirts as well – a colour symbolizing awareness of overdose and its effects; the loss of a loved one; and support to those grieving.

The quiet, reflective march, organized by members of the White Rock South Surrey Overdose Response Community Action Team, was about “inviting the community to just take a moment to bring awareness,” Sources Community Resource Centre’s manager of counselling and substance use George Passmore told Peace Arch News last week, in promoting the event.

It was also hoped to encourage conversations that don’t stigmatize a drug-related death or the struggle with addiction, and promote knowledge of White Rock’s opioid agonist treatment (OAT) clinic.

READ MORE: Opioid addiction treatment clinic opens in White Rock

The clinic, which opened in December at 15521 Russell Ave., provides doctor-referred opioid addicts with medications such as methadone and Suboxone, to help manage the symptoms of cravings and withdrawal.

Passmore told PAN the clinic is a positive step in tackling the crisis, and already has “at least 75” patients.

“I think there are good things happening that are making a difference,” he said.



tholmes@peacearchnews.com

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Holding a photo of her son, Zachary, who died in a recovery house, Maggie Plett receives a hug from Cole Izsak. The South Surrey mother took part in a Wednesday afternoon march to raise awareness of the overdose crisis. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Overdose-awareness march participants gather for a group photo outside White Rock City Hall before setting off Wednesday afternoon. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Placards bearing statements such as this one – ‘No more stigma, No more shame’ – were carried, along with photos of loved ones lost to overdose, during Wednesday’s march. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Maggie Plett (left), whose son Zachary died of a fentanyl overdose at a Step by Step Recovery House in December, and her sisters Wendy Martinsen and Ilona Carroll, carry a photo of the 21-year-old on Wednesday’s march. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Ilona Carroll holds a photo of her nephew Zachary Plett at the turnaround point for Wednesday’s overdose awareness walk. Plett died in December of a fentanyl overdose. (Tracy Holmes photo)

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