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“Today, on International Overdose Awareness Day, we come together to acknowledge a profound challenge that too often remains in the shadows. Overdose, much like the broader Substance Use Health Emergency, is a complex issue that knows no boundaries. It affects our families, our friends and our communities. Behind every statistic, there is a human story of parents, children, siblings, friends and loved ones. Every life lost is a heartbreaking reminder of the work still ahead of us.
“In January 2022, in response to the rising tide of overdose related tragedies and harms, our government declared a Substance Use Health Emergency. This was not merely an acknowledgment of the situation; it was a call to action for every Yukoner, for communities, for organizations and for all levels of government to play their part in preventing the next tragedy.
“While we have made strides, in close collaboration with our partners like the Council of Yukon First Nations, Blood Ties Four Directions, the RCMP, Yukon Hospitals and all First Nations and communities, we recognize the gravity of the challenge ahead.
“This year, the theme for International Overdose Awareness Day is Recognizing Those People Who Go Unseen. It is a call to spotlight the many among us whose lives have been deeply touched by overdose and substance use. They may be the unsung heroes responding at the frontlines, the families and friends mourning in quiet resilience or the health care professionals tirelessly offering support. To each and every one of you: we see you.
“In light of this, our approach to tackling overdose and substance use related harms is anchored in a commitment to prevention, harm reduction, community safety and treatment and recovery. It is not enough to simply respond; we must be proactive and work together, anticipating the needs of Yukoners and investing in their health and wellbeing.
“This is reflected in the Substance Use Health Emergency Strategy, which we recently announced alongside partners. This strategy serves as a roadmap outlining actionable steps that all of us can undertake.
“On this International Overdose Awareness Day, I extend my heartfelt condolences to all affected. We, as a community, stand by you, committed to paving the way for an end to the impacts of overdose and a decrease in the broader complexities associated with substance use. Our shared mission is clear: a healthier, safer and more compassionate Yukon for all.”