Indigenous People Bear the Brunt of the Toxic Drug Crisis – The Tyee

The First Nations Health Authority has unveiled a plan to curb the deadly toll.

The B.C. First Nations Health Authority opened its gathering to present a grim report on toxic drug toxic deaths in 2022 with a song, a prayer of hope and unity for the families and friends affected by toxic drugs.

The report found toxic drugs have been taken a disproportionate toll on First Nations members, who were almost five times as likely to die of drug poisoning in 2022 than non-Indigenous B.C. residents. Although representing only 3.3 per cent of the province’s population, Indigenous people represented 16.4 per cent of toxic drug poisoning deaths in 2021.

The numbers are also dire for women. In 2022, 36.5 per cent of the First Nations people who died were women, twice the rate for non-Indigenous people.

“When I think about toxic drug deaths, I think about pain. I think about self-medication. I think about the causes of that pain. I think about systemic failure to look after those in pain,” said Grand Chief Doug Kelly (Stó:lō).

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