The grim findings were laid out in a BC Coroners Service report dated Feb. 11. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
Adobe stock image

The grim findings were laid out in a BC Coroners Service report dated Feb. 11. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE Adobe stock image

Drug overdoses kill 13 people in Grand Forks amid deepening crisis across B.C.

A recent report by the BC Coroners Service suggests the trend is worsening over the pandemic

Social stigma and the COVID-19 pandemic may be worsening the ongoing overdose crisis in Grand Forks, according to a regional overdose task force.

“Overdoses are skyrocketing, and some of that may be attributable to increased isolation and increased drug use last year,” Amanda Erickson, co-ordinator of Grand Forks’ Community Action Team (GFCAT), told The Gazette.

READ MORE: Fatal overdoses continue to spike in B.C. as July sees 175 illicit drug deaths

READ MORE: First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Community Action Teams have been working to improve community access to health care and addiction treatment across B.C. since the province declared the overdose crisis an epidemic in 2016.

Meanwhile, Grand Forks saw more than a dozen fatal overdoses from “street drugs” and un-prescribed medications in the last two years, according to a recent B.C. Coroners Service (BCCS) report.

19 people died of drug overdoses across the Kootenay Boundary region in 2020. Thirteen people died in Grand Forks between 2018 and 2020, as suspected fatal overdoses hit 1,716 last in B.C. last year. Last year’s death toll saw a 74 per cent surge over numbers for 2019, the report found. The overwhelming majority of recorded overdose deaths (85 per cent in 2019) were attributed to the powerful opioid fentanyl, with 81 per cent of deaths occurring in men.

READ MORE: GFCAT hosts vigil for International Overdose Day

The report also shows a spike in “extreme fentanyl concentrations” in fatal overdoses between April and December of 2020, roughly overlapping the COVID-19 pandemic.

Erickson called for more education to “demystify” popular misconceptions that addiction is “a moral issue.”

These attitudes can be dangerous when they discourage people in the grips of addiction from reaching out for treatment, she said.

“We have to create a safe community so that we can support each other,” she explained, qualifying that much of her work “is about empowering people to ask for help with all kinds of substance abuse issues,” including non-illicit drugs like alcohol.

GFCAT is part of a network of organizations funded by the Community Action Initiative, the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions and the province’s Overdose Emergency Response Centre.

The BCCS report covered suspected fatal overdoses involving “controlled and illicit street drugs,” including “heroin, cocaine, MDMA, methamphetamine and illicit fentanyl.”

BC Ambulance crews responded to 23 overdoses in Grand Forks in 2020, up from 22 in 2019, according to a recent BC Emergency Health Services report.



Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

B.C. overdosesfentanylGrand Forks

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A helicopter hired by Golden Dawn Minerals trails an electromagnetic scanner over Greenwood on Wednesday, March 3. Photo: Submitted
Helicopter flights above Greenwood, rural Grand Forks part of gold mining survey

Results to inform potential explorations by Golden Dawn Minerals, which owns Phoenix and other area mines

An RDKB bylaw officer on Thursday, March 4, concluded their investigation into land-use violations reported at the disused Broadacres facility at 860 Carson Rd., according to planning and development manager Donna Dean. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
No ‘homeless shelter’ at rural Grand Forks’ Broadacres, says RDKB

Regional District planning manager Donna Dean says there’s no camping happening there, either

Edward Wright’s trial will continue at the city courthouse later this spring, the court heard. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks man stands trial for break and enter at flood-damaged property

Edward “Joe” Wright is accused of an August 2019 property crime in the city.

Cat defenders Kimberly Feeny (left) and Zeke Sijohn (centre) stand beside Councillor Neil Krog after signing a lease at city hall for the Boundary Helping Hands’ cat shelter. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks’ city hall leases vacant home for cat shelter

Boundary Helping Hands’ Chair Kimberly Feeny said the shelter hopes to start adopting cats soon

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

Thursday, Feb. 4: RDKB Chief Engineer Darryl Funk hoists a banner commemorating last year’s championship season by the Bantam House Bruins. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Bantam Bruins honoured at hair-raising banner ceremony at Grand Forks’ Jack Goddard Arena

Asst. coach Mike Tollis said he reluctantly gave in to the team’s victory wish that he cut his pony tale

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen takes part in an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. A joint federal and B.C. government housing program announced today aims to help people living in up to 25,000 vulnerable households pay their rent. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Federal, B.C. governments announce $517-million rent aid program to help vulnerable

Benefits for those not eligible for B.C.’s Rental Assistance Program or Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters

Is it safe to give your dog some peanut butter? Not always, BC SPCA warns

Some commercial peanut butter ingredients can be harmful to dogs

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Health Minister Adrian Dix, front, B.C. Premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrive for a news conference about the provincial response to the coronavirus, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, March 6, 2020. Pandemic emergency measures have been in place for almost a year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. officials plead for patience as 1.7 million COVID-19 calls flood in

Vaccine registration for 90-plus seniors opened Monday

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Vaccine hesitancy decreases in B.C. as mass immunizations set to begin: poll

Two-thirds of British Columbians, and Canadians, would get the vaccine as soon as possible

Software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, has been forced to re-skill during the COVID-19 pandemic after more than six years of unsuccessfully applying for jobs in B.C.’s tech industry. (Submitted photo/Shaimma Yehia)
Why skilled immigrant women continue to be shut out of B.C.’s booming tech sector

Experienced software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, hasn’t found a job since she migrated to Canada 6 years ago

Ron Sivorot, business director at Kennametal’s Langford site, the Greater Victoria facility that made a component being used on NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars. (Jake Romphf, Black Press Media)
NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover digging in with B.C.-made part

Kennametal’s Langford plant’s tooth blank is helping the rover’s drill collect rock cores

A woman walks through Toronto’s financial district on Monday, July 30, 2018. A new poll suggests most Canadians believe there’s still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in this country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Canadians, especially women, say gender equality not achieved in Canada: Poll

Poll results themselves underscore the challenge, with more men believing equality had been achieved

Most Read