Pubdate: Fri, 04 Aug 2017
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Nick Eagland
Page: 4


Those with registered Indian status in B.C. are three times more
likely to die than others

B.C.'s overdose crisis is disproportionately impacting Indigenous
people, who are three times more likely than non-First Nations people
to die, according to data released Thursday.

The preliminary numbers show that 14 per cent of overdoses in B.C.
were experienced by First Nations people, who were five times more
likely than non-First Nations people to overdose.

Ten per cent of overdose deaths in B.C. were First Nations people, who
comprise 3.4 per cent of the population.

The data was collected from the B.C. Coroners Service, emergency
departments and other health services across B.C., then linked to the
First Nations Client File, which is a cohort of First Nations people
with registered Indian status. It does not include all Indigenous
people in B.C. or specify in which communities the deaths are occurring.

Data on overdoses was gathered Jan. 31, 2015 to Nov. 30, 2016, while
data on overdose deaths was gathered Jan. 31, 2015 to July 21, 2016.

Dr. Shannon McDonald, chief medical officer for the First Nations
Health Authority, said that what officials learned from the data would
be used to stop people from dying while reducing stigma and harm,
through such measures as increasing access to supervised-consumption

McDonald said health officials also want to address the root cause of
the crisis, which she attributed to trauma stemming from colonization,
displacement and disconnection from culture, family and community.

"Issues of racism, discrimination, judgment and lack of ability to
wrap people with love and services at every level has definitely
affected where we're going," she said.

The B.C. Coroners Service bolstered its overdose death data collection
after provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall declared a public
health emergency on April 14, 2016.

But it was an arduous task to identify Status First Nations members
among the 1,700 people who have died of an illicit-drug overdose since
the start of 2016, which led to delays in the data being released.

"We've been slammed, frankly, by the number of deaths," said Lisa
Lapointe, the chief coroner.

"The overdose epidemic is showing us that illicit drug use in B.C. is
far more pervasive than we knew and our coroners are attending
fatalities across communities, across cultures, occupations and income
levels," she said.
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