Different Mother’s Day wish for B.C. moms working to save lives in fentanyl crisis

published on May 12, 2018 by Lori Culbert in Vancouver Sun

A group of B.C. women know exactly what they want for Mother’s Day, but their wishes cannot be fulfilled by their children.

The grim reality is that each has lost a child to the province’s escalating overdose crisis, which is killing more than four people a day.

These women have united in their grief with like-minded mothers across Canada, the U.S. and Mexico to launch the international #listentomom campaign, which demands a more humane approach to drug addiction: removing the stigma and having it recognized as a medical issue.

“It is a monumental epidemic and we are not addressing it with the urgency it requires. It is a public health emergency, like ebola and AIDS,” said Kat Wahamaa of Maple Ridge, whose son Joseph, 25, died of a fentanyl overdose in 2016.

“Our war on drugs, that is what is killing our children. It doesn’t help us. We spend billions of dollars on policing and jail, then there is a pittance put into services for children.”

Wahamaa is a member of Canada’s Moms Stop the Harm, which is urging “a compassionate and tolerant approach” to substance use disorders.

During the same week as their campaign launch, the coroner’s service announced 161 people had fatally overdosed in B.C. in March, the second-highest monthly death toll since the province declared a public health emergency more than two years ago. March’s grim tally was an alarming 58 per cent jump over the 102 deaths in February.

The mothers are demanding eight recommendations for change, including several for which top health officials in B.C. have previously expressed some support.

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