August 31st is the International Day of Remembrance for Overdose but North Bay will be taking time to remember on Wednesday, August 28th instead due to the 31st falling on a Friday before the long weekend. The event will be taking place at Leger Square, just outside of City Hall from 6:00-8:00pm.

“It’s a way to pay tribute to those lost to overdose,” said Caitlin Dobratz, who is heading up the event with the Aids Committee of North Bay & Area.

“The event is in partnership with the Aids Committee of North Bay & Area, the local Health Unit, the Community Counselling Centre of Nipissing, and Nipissing First Nation. All the agencies got together to create a gathering to raise awareness of overdose and to help reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths in our community. We are hoping this event will give a safe space for family and friends to acknowledge their grief if they have been personally affected by an overdose and spread the message that overdose is preventable.”

That’s the message that Dobratz hopes that you take from the event and is the main reason they celebrate every year, that overdoses are preventable. Also at the event, they will talk about Naloxone training. Naloxone will temporarily reverse the effects of an opiate overdose. Anyone who walks by or takes part in the training will be given a free Naloxone kit as well.

For those who take part in the event at City Hall, there will also be a candlelight vigil, a moment of silence, story sharing, free swag and visits to the Garden of Remembrance, which participants planted at last year’s event. Councillor Dave Mendicino will be on hand to read the official proclamation as well.

“Normally Mayor Al McDonald would read the proclamation but he is unable to attend this year, so he is sending the councilman in his place.” Dobratz explained.

As for safe space, which can be tough in group settings, how strong is attendance?

“We have had good turnouts. We all kind of know someone who has been personally affected. It is a pretty widespread thing through most of our communities now so we do have a great turnout.”