Organizers at National Day of Action events across Canada say its time to end the stigma, have a conversation and utilize harm reduction strategies to decrease the numbers of those dying from illicit drug use.

One of the initiatives they are calling for is the legalization of a safe supply of heroin for chronic users who are now forced to access the unpredictable and toxic supply of street drugs from organized crime.

Stacy Middlemiss, the Community Action Team Coordinator in Duncan said there are projects underway where chronic drug users are recovering once they have a safe supply.

“They are providing, basically, legal heroin to substance users and they’ve seen that it just gives people an opportunity to get stability and get their life back. A lot of those people go back to school or mend those relationships that were broken because of their substance use, and end up getting their life back.”

Over 60 per cent of the people who have died from an overdose are using at home alone because they don’t want anyone to know they are using.

Middlemiss said ending the stigma surrounding drug use would allow those individuals to get the help they need and prevent their deaths.

The 31 crosses erected on the TransCanada Highway near Coronation Street today were in memory of the lives lost in the Cowichan Valley to illicit drug use.