A memorial bench will be unveiled in Riverside Park on Thursday in memory of those who have died by drug overdose. The project was spearheaded by Sandra Tully of Moms Stop The Harm and Addiction Matters Kamloops. Tully lost her son to an overdose in 2016.
“I just felt that as I watched our community be ravaged by the deaths that are happening, I just thought that we as a community needed to come together and recognize what was happening,” she said.
Fundraising for the memorial bench project began last year. Now, on the eve of its unveiling, Tully hopes the bench can be a place to remember lost loved ones and inspire conversation about the drug crisis, both in Kamloops and across the country as the opioid crisis continues.
“Part of International Overdose Awareness Day is about starting that conversation and reducing the stigma surrounding it,” she said. “Just starting those conversations. That’s how we’re going to get through this. People have to talk about this.”
The memorial bench unveiling will take place on Thursday, during an International Overdose Awareness Day event at Riverside Park. The event takes place from noon to 2 p.m. It all gets underway beginning at Heritage House, showcasing the PhotoVoice project.
Jessica Mensinger, from Addiction Matters Kamloops and Interior Health said local people who had lived experience with substance abuse will be featured among the pictures. They’ve also worked with local video production company Joy Factory Films to put together a video spotlighting some of these photos and captions.
Thursday’s event is free and open to the public.
“We are sharing it widely and hoping we get a really good turnout,” Mensinger said. “Our hope, really, is to always increase awareness around overdose and the services and supports that are available in our community. But also to increase compassion.”