Powell River resident Darlana Treloar and her late son Sean (supplied by Darlana Treloar)
It’ll be an emotional Saturday afternoon for Darlana Treloar.
Treloar will be standing with a cross and holding a photo of her son, Sean, who she lost to an overdose three years ago at the age of 27.
She won’t be alone.
Treloar is organizing a group picture in the name of Moms Stop the Harm, an online network of families who have lost someone to substance use, or have lived experience.
“We advocate for harm reduction, decriminalization, and safe supply. We also offer support and education,” Treloar said.
Treloar said “it’s a photo of people holding crosses, where people who have lost someone personally to substance use are taking part in the picture. It’s going to be very emotional and very powerful.”
It’s happening at 1:00pm at the upper lot at Willingdon Beach.
“It’s going to show the islands in the background and the mill, and so it’s quite a lovely spot, and I hope the rains stay away,” Treloar said.
Powell River is the third community to host such a photo shoot. Previous ones were done in Kelowna and Vancouver.
An Indigenous woman will be drumming during the event.
“That will probably affect a lot of us,” Treloar said.
Treloar said that if you want to take part, you can contact her on Facebook or email ([email protected]) but if you show up unannounced, as long as you’re wearing black, have an 8X10 photo and are able to sign the release form, you can be included in the photo.
Reflecting on her own experience, Treloar said her son became hooked on prescription pills in his late teens, which started the addiction cycle.
“So unfortunately, we lost him close to 10 years later, and it was quite a struggle,” Treloar said. “I’m hoping that by doing this photo in Powell River that it will bring awareness to the young lives that were lost here, and also to the grief that’s felt by the families that were left behind.”
Powell River’s fatal overdose rates are the second highest in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.
In 2018, BC Emergency Health Services reported 76 calls for overdose in Powell River.
Treloar said while harm reduction has helped, the number of overdoses are still up.
She added that substance users need to know that they’re not alone.
“Just because they use substances doesn’t mean they’re a bad person,” Treloar said. “Lots of people use substances and people need to change the way they think about addiction. People are dying at an alarming rate.”
Treloar said reducing stigma, talking about it, and raising awareness in order to #StopTheStigma is key to stemming the tide of overdoses, “but many things need to happen (including) harm reduction, decriminalization and safe supply along with treatment and programs for people struggling with addiction.”