Volunteers build 1,600 crosses to mark overdose deaths in Saskatchewan

In preparation of International Overdose Awareness Day, volunteers gathered not only to build crosses, but to share their stories as well.

According to the Saskatchewan Coroners Report, 1,509 Saskatchewan lives have been lost to overdose since 2010.

On Sunday, Prairie Harm Reduction had around 20 volunteers building crosses — one for every life lost.

Read more: New Saskatchewan overdose numbers show old pattern

“We wanna make sure that we’re raising awareness and making the government aware of what’s happening and making sure that people understand the severity of the situation,” said Prairie Harm Reduction Executive Director Jason Mercredi.

The event was expected to take up to five hours to get every cross done, but there were only a few hundred left after only one hour.

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Their aim is to remind government officials of the need for more overdose prevention resources and to remind families they are not alone.

“[We want to] help bring some closure to the people who have been lost and a lot of times they don’t feel like they matter, they don’t feel like their voices are heard when a family member or friend goes. We’re going to let them know we haven’t forgotten and that we remember,” said Mercredi.

Mother and volunteer Marie Agioritis regularly gives her time to promote harm reduction.

She aims to raise awareness and have others recognize the importance of every individual human life and the impact their loss has on others.

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“Everyone of those crosses represents dozens and dozens of people and the harm and the hurt that they feel as a result of that one death,” said Agioritis.

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She added that her passion on the topic comes from her personal experience.

“I think of my son and how he should still be here. And even if we had some of the measures in place when he died four years ago, he would probably still be here. So if we can impact decision-makers now, who are we going to be able to save in four years?”

The crosses will be brought to Regina for National Overdose Awareness Day.

Volunteers will place them on the grounds of the Saskatchewan Legislature on Aug. 31.

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