January 31, 2023
UBCIC Calls for Holistic, System-Wide Supports from Canada and BC as Decriminalization Begins
(xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil Waututh)/Vancouver, B.C. – January 31, 2023) In response to the unprecedented, escalating overdose and drug toxicity crisis, British Columbia, with the approval of the federal government, has decriminalized small quantities of drugs for personal possession. By resolution, UBCIC recognizes that decriminalization is one of many necessary steps to address the overdose crisis, reduce drug-related harms and end the overrepresentation of First Nations people in the criminal justice system, and calls upon the governments of BC and Canada to take further action.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, UBCIC President, stated “BC declared the overdose crisis a public health emergency in 2016, but seven years later deaths continue to rise, and First Nations people are still disproportionately impacted. We have all been touched by this crisis. In 2019, I lost my beloved, 42-year-old son to a carfentanyl overdose. While we recognize decriminalization is an opportunity to reduce criminalization and promote access to services, it must be part of a system-wide effort to end the overdose crisis, increase supports and services, and address the root causes of addiction. Decriminalization alone is not enough to change the trajectory of this devastating crisis.”
“BC needs a holistic substance use and mental health system of care to ensure that evidence-based, culturally safe services are available to all people who use drugs,” continued Chief Don Tom, UBCIC Vice President. “For First Nations people, substance use is often rooted in trauma from centuries of colonialization and the rampant, ongoing racism and exclusion that we continue to experience daily. BC and Canada must act urgently to fund meaningful healing and supports, especially initiatives by Indigenous people for Indigenous people, and end discrimination in the healthcare system, as called for by In Plain Sight.”
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President, 250-490-5314
Chief Don Tom, Vice-President, 604-290-6083
UBCIC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
For more information please visit www.ubcic.bc.ca