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Groups to host interfaith memorial for Vancouver overdose victims

Hundreds of people are expected to attend an interfaith memorial Thursday evening to honour people who have lost their lives during the overdose crisis.

Vancouver's Christ Church Cathedral will host an interfaith memorial for overdose victims on Thursday, May 18, 2017.

Jennifer Gauthier/Metro File

Vancouver's Christ Church Cathedral will host an interfaith memorial for overdose victims on Thursday, May 18, 2017.

Hundreds of people are expected to attend an interfaith memorial Thursday evening to honour people who have lost their lives during the overdose crisis.

The memorial, held at the Christ Church Cathedral at 690 Burrard St., is being organized by the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society, Jewish Addiction Community Services, Union Gospel Mission, Christ Church Cathedral, Providence Health Care, the Archdiocese of Vancouver, Tenth Church and St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church.

It will also feature leaders from Vancouver’s Buddhist and Sikh communities, who will speak at the public memorial.

“People are dying and their friends and family don’t have a decent place to grieve and mourn,” said Dean Peter Elliott of Christ Church Cathedral in a statement. “We want to change that. We want to bring this crisis further out of the shadows into the clear light of day.”

British Columbia is currently in the midst of a provincial health emergency.

The fentanyl-fueled overdose crisis killed 931 people last year and 347 as of March 31 this year.

The City of Vancouver said fire fighters responded to 168 overdose calls in the first week of May alone, and police suspect at least seven people died of overdoses in the city during that time.

“Frontline staff is feeling overwhelmed by the sheer scope of the crisis,” said St. Paul’s Hospital Interim Social Work Site lead Meghan McMenamie, a co-organizer of the memorial. “We need to gather and acknowledge the toll this is taking and find a way through this.”

The memorial service, which runs from 5:30 to 7 p.m., is open to the public.

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