The Ontario Network of People Who Use Drugs is a growing provincial network led by diverse people with lived/living experience of drug use who inform and shape drug policy, laws, and services through activism, consultation, and capacity building as such we are encouraging any and all people who use drugs across Ontario who are leading the response in their own communities and whom may or may not be part of a local effort to join us in forming a unified provincial voice that can support organizations and initiates that are engaged in a response to the drug poisoning crisis and ensure those responses are implemented and led by the voices of people who use drugs whom are and always have been the first responders in their communities.
In recognition of International Overdose Awareness Day, we reflect and remember everyone who has lost their life because of the many factors a toxic and illicit supply of drugs supported by failed drug policies, political heel dragging, inaction, and a crisis unsupported by people in power creates. Since 2016 Ontario has mourned 10,444 individuals, and that number continues to grow daily as more than 200 people a month die in Ontario.
Today, communities across our province grieve over the tragedies of lives lost due to the drug poisoning crisis, which during Covid-19 has been mostly ignored because of the stigma and criminalization that people who use drugs and their loved one’s experience. People continue to lose their friends, family and loved ones due to the health disparities and harmful drug policies that remain unaddressed and unchanged. We are forced to continue to watch the number of fatalities rise.
People who use drugs have been on the front lines of this war for far too long, operating interventions that others are paid to do while we beg for the scraps and are exploited for our passion to save our communities. We ask for seats at tables where people in power holding privilege make decisions on our lives, and remain uninvited because we are too loud, too negative, too angry. Tone policed, underpaid or unpaid, tokenized, we remain in the trenches of this antiquated war that have claimed countless lives of those in our community.
We demand all levels of government respond meaningfully, and urgently to our cries for support and properly address long-term policy changes including decriminalization and legalization of all substances, utilizing meaningful engagement with people who use drugs.
People who use drugs and their allies have been resilient, but we cannot continue to see our friends die. The time for talk is over, we need immediate action to ensure that change and we need it now. This is a public health crisis and health pandemic and should be recognized as such and addressed with evidence-based initiatives.
Please join us in a moment of silence today to remember all the lives lost. We will continue to fight against black and Indigenous racism, homophobia, transphobia, and the ideology that people who use drugs don’t have the right to life. We know and love people who use drugs and we are remembering over 29,052 Canadians who died since 2016 due to drug poisonings.
In Love & Solidarity to People Who Use Drugs across this province, may today be a day of rage and sorrow so that tomorrow can become one of action and change. You are in our hearts and minds today and always.
The Ontario Network of People Who Use Drugs
Nat Kaminski (President)
Sean LeBlanc (Vice President)
Ashley Smoke (Secretary)
Leticia Mizon (Interim Treasurer)
Cassandra Smith (Interim Member at Large) J
effrey Miles (Board Member & Digital Media Support)
In Memorium: Randy Roberts (Treasurer)