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B.C. Has Seen A 93% Spike In First Nations Overdose Deaths Amid Pandemic

drug overdoses in North Delta

Photo: @deltapolice / Twitter

Overdose deaths in B.C. have surged dramatically since the pandemic began, but that’s especially so for B.C.’s First Nations people.

New data from B.C.’s First Nations Health Authority shows a 93% spike in First Nations’ overdose deaths this year, compared to last.

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That data looks at overdoses from January to May in 2020, compared to the same months the year prior. It shows 89 First Nations people have died from an overdose within the 2020 time period.


“When I talk about these numbers, I’m talking about people,” said Dr. Shannon McDonald, acting chief medical officer with the First Nations Health Authority, Monday. “There has been much pain and loss in our communities due to the loss of these individuals and I want to acknowledge that pain and that loss.”

And yet First Nations people account for just 3.3% of B.C.’s population.

The province first declared its overdose crisis as a public emergency in 2016. In May 2020, 170 people died from an overdose, which is nearly as many COVID-19 deaths in B.C.

The data from First Nations Health Authority is limited, however. It looks at those with Indian status, who are residents of B.C. and who are registered to receive health services in the province.

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