Community mourns after 14-year-old dies of overdose on Vancouver Island
(Cowichan Tribes / Facebook)
VICTORIA -- As the province continues to grapple with a severe overdose epidemic, one community on Vancouver Island is mourning the loss of a 14-year-old girl due to illicit substances.
In a statement Wednesday, Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour said the community was coming together to remember and honour the loss of one of their own.
CTV News has learned the young teen's name was Fairlie Johnny.
“This opioid crisis seems unending and has claimed the life of a precious young girl only 14 years old, and continues to affect many more youth in our community,” said Seymour.
“Our most heartfelt condolences and thoughtful prayers go out to the parents of this beautiful young girl, and we offer our most intense commitment to do something about this terrible addiction in our community.”
The First Nation community says that it will now be creating a team to form a plan on how to manage the overdose epidemic in its jurisdiction.
The upcoming Cowichan Tribes Opioid Crisis Response Task Force will consist of team members from a variety of backgrounds and will offer support and counselling for people who are facing addiction challenges.
“There is no greater loss in life than that of a child, and even greater still is the need for all of us to rise to the challenge to honour her memory by coming together to end illicit drugs and addiction in our community,” said Seymour.
“We need to start talking about these issues and we need to start talking with each other in an effort to maintain our kinship to one another.”
The Cowichan Tribes community says that everyone should have honest and meaningful conversations about drug use, especially as Vancouver Island faces an increasingly toxic drug supply amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The BC Coroners Service announced Thursday that the province saw a record-breaking number of overdose deaths in June, surpassing the previous record that was set one month earlier in May.
A total of 175 illicit drug overdose deaths were seen in June, or an average of 5.8 a day.
The federal government now says that it will be providing $2 million to launch a pilot program in the Cowichan Valley which will offer a safe supply of drugs and supports to people facing addictions.
"Today's report clearly shows us that the tragedy of overdose deaths from the toxic street drug supply in B.C. continues to escalate," said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry in a statement Thursday.
"While much effort has been made to reduce harm, remove stigma and provide the care that people living with addiction need, the impacts of the pandemic have made the situation dire for too many."