Amid the fight against toxic drug poisonings and deaths, Fraser Health has opened a new mobile overdose prevention site in the Cheam First Nation in Rosedale.
The Cheam Mobile Overdose Prevention Site is located at 52161 West Victor Drive, open from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily. This is the first mobile overdose prevention site in a First Nations community in B.C. It will serve people living in Cheam as well as Chilliwack, Agassiz, Rosedale and surrounding communities.
The mobile site is staffed by workers trained to reverse drug poisoning and provide a safe environment to consume their substances. The service includes a customized van where individuals can use substances while witnessed by trained staff members. Monitored inhalation services are provided in a separate tent outside the van. The overdose prevention site is Indigenous-led and “surrounds users of the site with traditional cultural supports and culturally safe care.”
Harm reduction supplies and training are available at the mobile site as are care team members to help people reach out to health and social services.
“The heart-wrenching impact of the toxic drug crisis on our people, families and communities requires a radical, multi-pronged response,” Cheam First Nation Chief Andrew Victor stated. “Our strategies must evolve to reduce harm and further deaths. Cheam welcomes this mobile overdose prevention site to help protect our loved ones in higher-risk behaviour.”
First Nations Health Authority CEO Richard Jock said First Nations people and communities are disproportionally affected by the ongoing toxic drug crisis.
“Despite making up only 3.3 percent of the population in B.C., First Nations people comprise 16.4 per cent of toxic drug poisoning deaths in 2022, and we must take action to reverse this trend,” Jock said. “Alarmingly, First Nations women in B.C. died at 11.2 times the rate of other female residents in 2022.”
Chilliwack’s number of deaths due to unregulated drugs rose from 29 to 37 in July, according to the most recent report from the B.C. Coroners Service.
– With files from Jessica Peters