Skip to content

COLUMN: Love and grief during the toxic drug crisis

MLA Brittny Anderson writes about the provincial emergency
A vase of flowers on top of a coffin at an event marking International Overdose Awareness Day in Nelson in 2021. Photo: Tyler Harper

by Brittny Anderson

I have some bad news to tell you,” reads a text from my friend.

I call her immediately to find out another kid is dead from the toxic drug supply.

My heart sinks. “Who?”

She gives me the name. It is one of her kid’s friends. who I don’t immediately recognize.

“Who are their parents?” I ask.

She tells me and my heart sinks deeper. I used to work with one of them.

Now, this article isn’t about me. It is about our community and our collective loss. I am sharing my perspective because sometimes people think politicians don’t care, which is fair. If you have never met me, you don’t know how much I love my family, community, region, or province. If you don’t know me, how could you possibly understand that everything I do is rooted in love, gratitude and a fierce sense of service.

This job is all peaks and valleys. Sometimes I am riding high and getting to cut the ribbon at Whitewater’s new all-seasons Hummingbird Lodge surrounded by excited community partners and members. On other days I am meeting with a mom whose child was hit by a drunk driver and despite all the love and community support, it is incomprehensible and tragic, leaving deep scars. I wonder if I am equipped for all this. All I can do is do my best and hope that my team and I are able to make positive changes for our community and province.

On Aug. 31, we will gather to grieve the tremendous loss our community has collectively shared from the toxic drug supply. Some of the people at the gathering will be the parents of children, including minors, who have died during the toxic drug crisis. Some of the people there will be the people working in roles trying to support people, and keep them alive, during this crisis. They have all faced tremendous loss.

It is going to be a really hard day, but gathering as a community, sharing stories, giving and receiving hugs and learning more about how we can collectively solve this will help, in a small way, with the grief.

Our community has gone through a lot recently. It has been hard. What is beautiful is when people come together with compassion and empathy, looking for solutions and collaborating to make our community a safe and healthy place for everyone.

I want to thank all of the service providers and front-line workers, who have been responding to this crisis day after day. I think about and want to thank the peer network, who have been living this nightmare and are working so hard trying to save their friends and build community. I want to thank all the people who have attended my Community Leadership meetings to share their personal and professional stories with the ministers so that we can do better as a government. I want to send out my love and deep sympathies to the families and loved ones who have lost people to the toxic drug supply.

For people in the trenches right now, please reach out to my office and if we can help you, we will. My team is incredible and they work very hard to assist people.

Lastly, I want us all to remember that this crisis touches everyone. So please, let’s embody love, compassion and service to our community. We will only get through this if we work together.

Brittny Anderson is MLA for Nelson-Creston.