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LETTER: Let's remember the less fortunate during the pandemic

The pandemic hasn't halted the opioid crisis, writes Kate Nixon
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It has been an extremely chaotic and stressful time for so many as we navigate through the COVID19 pandemic. Our frontline workers are heroes as they put their lives at risk to aid their community at the cost of potentially being exposed to a deadly virus.

This is a lot for us to deal with as a society and there are so many elements that come with it and it is easy to forget all else and be focused on this pandemic.

Let’s not forget all the lives being lost to the opioid epidemic that is climbing and striving through this time.

Right before events unfolded we were having an issue with what is known as ‘purple fentanyl’, it was believed that a rainbow powder was the cause of the rise of overdoseses at the time.

Many people were overdosing in our city and it was taking multiple Nalaxone nasal sprays to revive them. For substance dependent folks this was a very horrifying time and they felt the same emotions we feel now. Pain, loss, uncertainty, anxiety was running high amongst those who suffered from addictions and many didn’t know if their life would be taken next.

Lives were lost and many harm reduction workers, community groups and allies and friends were selflessly working day and night to support these folks.

The opioid crisis has been an ongoing issue and hasn’t halted because of the virus, in fact it has made things harder. I ask folks that they reflect on their feelings of uncertainty and fear and try to apply it to how those in our community feel with the opioid crisis.

Imagine having that feeling doubled, that is the reality many are facing right here in Guelph. We are finding ourselves at a very similar time as we did before as a new deadly batch of fentanyl is hitting us.

As of May 13th, within 36 hours we had lost three beloved community members to fatal overdoses not including other overdoses that were not fatal, and the ones that were never documented. The numbers are increasing in losses and overdoses and I ask my community to remember that while we are battling one crisis in solidarity with one another let’s do the same for the opioid crisis.

The folks who are struggling with addictions are the youth, the elderly, your neighbour, your cousin, your coworkers etc... They have dreams and favourite ice cream flavours, they might like summer better than winter just like you, they also might have favourite tv shows and movies and this is because they are human.

You have more in common with them than you know and they live amongst us in our community everyday. They deserve to be treated with equity, respect and love and they deserve a fighting chance just like anyone else.

While we can look to the systemic issues at hand on what would be best to combat this crisis including legalizing drug use and providing homes for all, it is important for now to examine things we can do at a local and simple level.