By Jake Cardinal
(ANNews) – I don’t know what I’m doing out here on the west coast. I made this journey with the hopes of finding some kind of God-given path. And all I got were smiley, old men with beer-guts and closet drug-addicts telling me how great Vancouver was going to be when the summer finally hit. But they never speak about the terrible sense of doom hovering above the city — the dense, foul-smelling smog that’s blocking the sun.
The city is in the grips of a feeling I know all too well. It reminds me of my days romping around in places that could turn innocence into righteousness; righteousness into cynicism; cynicism into recklessness; or recklessness into hopelessness.
Or maybe I’m just projecting. Being surrounded by opioid-related information and death statistics cannot be good for anyone’s mental well-being. But in B.C. I have a higher chance of dying from a toxic drug supply than a vehicle collision, so it pays to be aware — especially for First Nations.
From January to June 2021, First Nations were dying at 4.8 times the rate of other B.C. residents from toxic batches, according to the First Nations Health Authority. And despite making up just 3.3 per cent of the province’s population, First Nations represent 14 per cent of all toxic drug poisoning deaths.
Paranoia doesn’t exist anymore, you’re either prepared or not.
The grand hopelessness is echoed by many news outlets as well, I believe. During my research, I saw a headline from the Globe and Mail, a news outlet that I’ve always held to high esteem due to their subscription-based business-model, that read:
BC HAS A DRUG OVERDOSE CRISIS. AT LEAST TRY TO PRETEND YOU CARE.
A little harsh, I thought as I clicked on the link, but was unable to read the article due to an issue with my account. However the headline was good enough for me. Because how else are you to cover such a tragic, hydra-headed issue that is seemingly here to stay? When the world is falling apart and the 24-hour news cycle is reporting on every single broken shard — it’s hard to care for most things.
GUNMAN KILLS FOUR IN DENVER-AREA SHOOTING SPREE;
SHOULD INVESTORS BE WORRIED ABOUT COVID IN 2022?;
VANCOUVER CANCELS ANNUAL HOMELESS COUNT FOR 2ND STRAIGHT YEAR;
DID WE JUST BLOW OUR LAST, BEST CHANCE TO TACKLE CLIMATE CHANGE?;
IRAN LAUNCHES ROCKET INTO SPACE AMID NUCLEAR TALKS.
A headline is all anyone really needs.
And so the issue of trying to cover the opioid-epidemic in any kind traditional journalistic sense is increasingly prominent. When I read articles by media outlets reporting on the deaths of these addicts, most of whom I would imagine were just trying to have a good time, the statistics become too much to read and I can barely finish an article without getting overwhelmed.
And I think everyone’s overwhelmed.
So, to tell the truth, I don’t actually know why I care about the opioid epidemic so much. Perhaps it was just seeing all those poor tweakers twitching on the streets of Vancouver in broad daylight; or maybe my Indigenous upbringing has made me accustomed to drug-abusers? Because despite not being a hard-drug user myself, I’ve come to understand and co-exist with these types of people — I feel comfortable with them. I’ve slept in the same room as Rez gangstas, drug mules, cocaine dealers, coke heads, acid heads, pint heads, a-holes, speed freaks, and angry alcoholics — many people I would consider close friends of mine.
But I suppose there’s no sympathy for the Devil if you don’t know it exists.