By Jensen, Randy on November 4, 2020.
Thursday’s Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs online session will discuss the highly polarizing Lethbridge Overdose Prevention Society.
Lethbridge was once home to the busiest supervised consumption site in North America, operated by ARCHES. On Aug. 31, the site was permanently closed after the province pulled funding for ARCHES. As the number of overdose deaths in Lethbridge continued to climb at record-breaking rates, SACPA said in a news release, harm reductionists and people who use drugs were left wondering where to go.
In September, a handful of former ARCHES employees and clients formed the Lethbridge Overdose Prevention Society (LOPS) with the mission to keep neighbours, friends and loved ones alive. LOPS launched a GoFundMe fundraiser, and within 24 hours saw over $10,000 in donations.
With this support, LOPS purchased a tent, furniture, space heater and harm-reduction supplies. LOPS then set up in a local park and began to provide services.
As the first unsanctioned overdose prevention site to operate in Alberta, the process has not been without significant challenges. LOPS continues to tackle these challenges and they are committed to doing what it takes to keep Lethbridge citizens safe as the overdose crisis, COVID-19 pandemic, and a looming HIV outbreak threaten lives, SACPA noted in its release.
Thursday’s speaker will be Kaley Ann Boudoin, who has worked with various harm-reduction groups across Alberta since 2015. In September, she was one of the founding organizers of the LOPS and volunteers as the Community Engagement Lead with the society.
Thursday’s session will begin at 10 a.m. on YouTube Live link: https://youtu.be/Gwh3VHuU4Gc. In order to ask questions of the speaker in the chat feature of YouTube, you must have a YouTube account and be signed in.
For further information, visit the SACPA website: http://www.sacpa.ca.