In one hour, volunteers with the Bear Clan Patrol found 1,000 needles on a single street.
Kevin Walker, interim executive director, says melting snow will only make the volunteers who scour the streets of Winnipeg busier.
“It hasn’t slowed down at all,” Walker says. “It’s going to be very crucial that we’re out there.”
Areas with a lot of foot traffic, like parks, are where the Bear Clan plans to spend more time.
Walker says the last thing they want is a child to accidentally poke themselves with a needle.
Figures from Overdose Awareness Manitoba show in the first nine months of 2020, 259 people died from drug-related deaths in the province.
Alene Kolb from the organization says the pandemic has only exacerbated the drug crisis.
She’s calling on the government to declare overdoses a public health emergency and for access to a safer supply of mind-altering drugs.
“Most people are accessing their drugs from the street and they’re dying,” Kolb says.
Her son overdosed six years ago after taking a pill he thought was OxyContin, but was laced with Fentanyl.
Kolb says people are focusing on the stigma surrounding drugs rather than creating safer access for treatments and harm reduction.
“If I could have my son here using a clean drug, I would sooner have him here doing that than not be here at all,” she says. “It is our moral obligation, our duty, to keep our community safe.”
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