Raising awareness of overdose and reducing the stigma of drug-related deaths are two of the goals of International Overdose Awareness Day, held annually on Aug. 31.

This year’s event at the entrance to the Kaministiquia River Heritage Park at the corner of Donald and Simpson Streets will feature community resource booths, overdose prevention training and free naloxone, as well as activities to make a tribute to a loved one.

“We really want to raise awareness about how overdoses impact so many people in our community,” said Cynthia Olsen, Manager – Community Strategies.

“The event also allows people to honour and remember their loved ones,” Olsen said, as tributes will be tied to the Overdose Tree or placed on the Memorial Table.

The event runs from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., with an evening component including a Buffalo Ceremony and Candlelight Vigil, starting at 7 p.m.

Members of Team DEK and the Gone too Soon Bereavement Group invite anyone impacted by overdose to participate in the Empty Chair Campaign, by painting a chair purple and adorning it with a picture or items to represent their loved one. The chairs can be placed at the park anytime on Aug. 31.

Participating community groups include: Thunder Bay Drug Strategy, Thunder Bay District Health Unit, NorWest Community Health Centres, Team DEK, Gone too Soon Bereavement Group, Thunder Bay Police Service, Canadian Mental Health Association, Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Hospice Northwest, and People Advocating for Change Through Empowerment.

For more information, visit the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy Facebook page at facebook.com/ThunderBayDrugStrategy.

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Contact:      Cynthia Olsen, Manager – Community Strategies, 625-2942

                     Carolyn Karle – Team DEK, dekaftercare@gmail.com