Osborne Bay and the sea walk provided the ideal backdrop on a picture-perfect evening for the first International Overdose Awareness Day event in Crofton Thursday, Aug. 31.
Cowichan Valley Citizen reporter Chadd Cawson, who lost his sister Jeni to the toxic drug crisis in 2017, organized ‘A Walk For J at Osborne Bay’ that featured performances by the Tzinquaw Dancers and piano music from David Chung. People with direct connections to losses from the crisis turned up as well as others from the community with no connection who just wanted to provide support.
Cawson has previously organized International Overdose Awareness Day events in the much larger centres of Winnipeg and Victoria. Now that he’s residing in the Cowichan Valley, he wanted to mark the occasion with a special event here and the Crofton waterfront spoke to him as the ideal location for healing and to bring the community together.
“It meant so much to me to see people come out for this important day and crisis that needs more light shone on it,” Cawson remarked. “According to the BC Coroners report that was released earlier this week, over 198 lives have been lost to this rising epidemic since July alone and, since this year began, over 1,455 lives have been lost in B.C. alone.
“With those numbers, which are someone’s special someone, it makes it more evident how we need to come together on this annual day, and find healing, community and better solutions for the future. Again, this epidemic does not discriminate against culture, class, gender, age or profession. It affects us all. Since losing my sister Jeni, this has become a labour of love for the past six years.”
Cawson has always paid for any expenses out of his own pocket to stage the event while providing water, snacks and some purple glow sticks to light the way as walkers proceeded along the sea walk after the performances. The formal part of the gathering included comments by Cawson and a letter read by Cawson from Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor, who was unable to attend. Donations were taken for the Hope Healing Farm in Duncan.
”It was a day to remember our fallen, taking our steps together on the sea walk was beautiful and moving for all present, and I hope to make it bigger and longer next year,” summed up Cawson. “My sincere heartfelt gratitude goes out to all who attended.”