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International Overdose Awareness Day - Mothers Remember Children Lost to Drugs
In an event organized by Moms Stop the Harm and Ryan’s Hope, Mayor Jeff Lehman proclaimed Aug 31 as the International Overdose Awareness Day in the city of Barrie.
70 people died due to drug overdose in 2021 in Barrie alone and 21 Canadians die everyday due to the drug epidemic.
“These deaths are felt intensely by the friends and family of those we've lost,” Lehman said. “We're remembering them today, and in remembering them are recommitting to our own efforts to do more, to support those struggling with addiction in our community, and to eradicate poison drugs.”
Ontario's Big City Mayors, an organization of mayors of 28 largest cities in Ontario and of which Lehman is a member of, committed to decriminalization of possession of certain controlled substances.
Lehman acknowledged work done by Moms Stop The Harm, a national organization of mothers who lost their children to drug crises and locally Ryan’s Hope started by Christine and Tom Nayler in memory of their son who died of toxic drug poisoning.
Christine Nayler said her family’s story of coping with Ryan’s loss is of “love, grief, pain, purpose, loss and survival.” Her son “lived with his bipolar disorder and self medicated it with street drugs because the pharmaceutical medications did not work for him.” Despite his struggles he helped other people and animals, as a volunteer at a cat shelter and an ethical vegan.
“If we were losing this number of Canadians to any other issue, there would be action,” Nayler said. “But shame, stigma, ignorance and moral judgment caused our government to place less value on the lives lost to toxic drugs than on life's lost COVID or cancer or heart disease.”
In the evening there was a vigil at city hall to remember those lost from the drug epidemic.
Cheryl Offord, who offered smudge during the morning and evening events, read poems she wrote in memory of her daughter Shylynn to drug overdose in 2019 at the age of 23 only.
One day on her way back from home, Offord saw her daughter crossing the road. “I just stood there and watched her. And on my way home, I wrote this in my notebook.”
I saw you today.
I saw you crossing the road.
I looked right at you.
I saw your tired eyes.
I saw the rolling thoughts and I saw determination to an unhealthy place.
I saw sadness and hurt and hidden tears.
I looked at your physical being and how hurt it was.
I saw the bones that hold your precious being together.
I saw hunger, tiredness, missing the place you want to feel safe.
I saw brokenness.
I saw you my sweetheart.
I saw you crossing the road.
I saw you, my beautiful girl deep in there somewhere.
I did not stop you.
I did not call your name.
But I have seen you through a mother's eyes and I know every pain that's inside.
I saw you today my beautiful girl and I love you crazy.
And I love you huge and I missed you.
That broken girl crossing that road today. She belongs to me. That's my girl.
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