Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff Deborah Watson, of MomsStopTheHarm, participated in the event to prevent drug overdoses.

WATCH: City and province must do more to deal with opioid crisis, say Red Deer advocates

They call for safe consumption site and drug treatment centre

More than 140 people participated in a Red Deer fundraiser Friday in memory of Leah Walker — and the 36 other city residents who died of drug overdoses so far this year.

The first annual Leah’s Light five-km walk/run was organized by Leah’s sister, Ashley Balan. She wanted to raise awareness of Red Deer’s high number of overdose deaths and to erase the public stigma that prevents many drug addicts from seeking help.

Money raised from the event at Kiwanis picnic grounds south of Bower Ponds will also benefit Turning Point. The local harm-reduction group distributes clean needles and is trying to start a safe consumption site in Red Deer to prevent more opioid-related deaths.

Balan was touched that so many people — many who also lost their loved ones to opioid overdoses — turned out to walk or run in memory of her sister, who died while in recovery last January.

“I’m immensely pleased with the turn-out,” said Balan, adding, “I feel good that I can help other people.”

Many Central Albertans mistakenly feel that being a drug addict is a choice people make. “I believe addiction is a disease — and there’s been enough research to show that, so it’s time we started treating it as such,” she added.

Balan and many others at the fundraiser called on the City of Red Deer to get services to help those in the grip of opioids.

A safe consumption site that would keep people alive should be first priority, said Balan, followed by a local drug treatment centre for those wanting help.

Stacey Carmichael, Turning Point executive director, said her group has been in extensive talks with the City of Red Deer, Alberta Health Services, and the provincial health ministry this summer to find a location for a safe consumption site in Red Deer.

Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman announced on Friday that a temporary safe consumption site will be located at Red Deer’s Safe Harbour Society site downtown.

“This one won’t be mobile. It will be temporary,” said Hoffman in an interview.

Deborah Watson, whose two adult children have been struggling with drugs, doesn’t feel the city or the province are doing enough to deal with the opioid crisis. “It’s cheaper to treat (addicted people) than to house them in federal prisons,” said Watson, a member of the national group MomsStopTheHarm.

 

Stacey Carmichael, executive-director of Turning Point. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Ashley Balan organized the walk/run to prevent drug overdoses in memory of her sister, Leah Walker. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Just Posted

UPDATED: Economy and health care expected to be hot election topics

Premier Rachel Notley makes announcement on Tuesday morning

Calgary woman convicted in son’s strep death seeking full parole

CALGARY — A woman convicted in her son’s death after she failed… Continue reading

Canadian women earn significantly less in pay, bonuses and profit sharing: study

TORONTO — Canadian women are paid 25 per cent less than men… Continue reading

UK’s May asks EU to delay Brexit until June 30

LONDON — Prime Minister Theresa May formally asked the European Union on… Continue reading

Politicians hitting the road for votes in Alberta election campaign

EDMONTON — After firing up supporters at campaign kickoff events, the leaders… Continue reading

Canadian pair fifth after short program at figure skating worlds

SAITAMA, Japan — Canada’s Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro are fifth after… Continue reading

Director Kim Nguyen tackles financial ‘madness’ in ‘The Hummingbird Project’

TORONTO — As Quebec filmmaker Kim Nguyen tells it, “The Hummingbird Project”… Continue reading

What Disney gets as its $71.3B buy of Fox assets closes

It’s finally complete. Disney closed its $71 billion acquisition of Fox’s entertainment… Continue reading

Opinion: Let’s be heard ‘loud and clear’ during provincial election campaign

By David Marsden During the banquet for Sunday’s Boston Bruins alumni game,… Continue reading

Documentary on Colten Boushie case to open Toronto’s Hot Docs festival

TORONTO — A film examining the case of a young Indigenous man… Continue reading

Want to help bees? Plant flowering herbs

Herbs are among the most useful plants in nature. They can tantalize… Continue reading

UN: Gene editing for human reproduction is ‘irresponsible’

GENEVA — A panel convened by the World Health Organization said it… Continue reading

Photos: Three moose spotted in Red Deer Tuesday

Three moose were spotted in Red Deer Tuesday morning. Red Deer resident… Continue reading

Most Read