Taking this photo was a humbling experince – realising that all of these mothers, sisters, brothers, fathers have lost someone dear to them.
These words are from Moms Stop The Harm
Families gather on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River for the Edmonton Memorial Photo
FEBRUARY 25, 2020
Families from Frog Lake, Claresholm, Marwayne, Lone Butte BC (with Edmonton family ties) and the Edmonton region gathered at the banks of the North Saskatchewan River to remember loved ones lost to substance use related causes. We demand urgent government action to prevent further loss of life.
While overdose deaths account for most of the tragic losses, we often forget that families mourn loved ones to other causes, such as infections and blood born diseases caused by lack of access to sterile supplies, and to suicide related to substance use and mental health challenges, as it the case with two of our Edmonton families in this photo..
It was a tear-filled and emotional gathering for us all, staring with blessings by Elder Dennis R. Wolfe from Frog Lake, AB, who drove in to Edmonton with his wife Loretta. They mourn their son Dennis Junior who died in March, 2019.
The river where we all stood marks the traditional meeting grounds, gathering place, and travelling route of the Cree, Saulteaux, Blackfoot, Métis, Dene and Nakota Sioux. We acknowledge all the many First Nations, Métis, and Inuit whose footsteps have marked these lands for centuries.
The crosses were an emotional labour of love by Phil Haug, the husband of MSTH co-founder Lorna Thomas and by Randy Pelletier. As the crosses were stacked up Phil and Randy were struck with the fact that each cross represented a loved one who is deeply loved and sadly gone. A son, a daughter, brother or sister, a parent. Many held crosses, eagle feathers, candles or other mementos to honour and remember their loved one.
In Alberta two people per day continue to die, while life saving public health services, like #SCS (Supervised Consumption Services) are under review in Alberta and their future is uncertain as we the announcement of the final findings of the review and their fate by our provincial government. For us as families, this is unacceptable, as death from substance use are preventable and our loved ones deserve to live.
We thank our photographer Rebecca Lippiatt Photography for capturing these powerful and emotional images, including individual family portraits following the group photo.
#StopTheStigma #LostToSubstanceUse #DeadPeopleCantRecover #SafeSupplyEndsTears