Saskatoon Youth Demand a Safe Consumption Site
On April 7, youth from Saskatoon’s west side gathered on 22nd Street and Avenue I at rush-hour to express their outrage and disappointment regarding the provincial budget, which denied funding for Prairie Harm Reduction and the Safe Consumption Site. This essential funding would have allowed Prairie Harm Reduction to operate their Safe Consumption Site 7 days a week. The youth brought the community together to mourn the loss of over 400 lives due to overdoses in our province, and to call on the Government of Saskatchewan to fund Prairie Harm Reduction.
Chokecherry youth and members of the community gathered to prepare signs with slogans like: I love someone who uses drugs; Too many overdoses, Not enough funds; Safe Consumption Sites Save Lives, and; What are you trying to conserve?
The community of Saskatoon joined them to show support to the families and loved ones of those whose lives have been lost to overdoses. This was the second consecutive year the provincial government denied funds to Prairie Harm Reduction to operate their Safe Consumption Site, amid record breaking numbers of deaths caused by overdoses. The demonstration was specific to the Safe Consumption Site, however, it was also critical to recognize provincial government under the Sask Party continues to evade responsibility for the wellbeing of those already made vulnerable in our communities.
The youth distributed the signs made earlier that afternoon to other community members to hold and raise awareness. Approximately 50 people attended the event with motorists showing their support by honking, waving and pulling over to join.
Saskatoon youth recognize that COVID-19 has created new barriers, and exacerbated existing barriers, for folks living with addictions. As a result, non-profit and community-based organizations like Prairie Harm Reduction are fighting an uphill battle to fill the gaps in addictions services, harm reduction and mental health support caused by systemic neglect.
The youth of Saskatchewan do not accept it. They do not accept any more lives must be lost to preventable and reversible overdoses. They do not accept the provincial government’s retroactive awareness campaign. We will not accept any more redundant and inaccessible services.