I asked about your daily struggles. Here’s what you said.
Isolation, financial stress and overdose deaths in the Cowichan Valley.
Last week, I dug into my personal struggles to find stable housing and community connections in the Cowichan Valley. I also asked you what you’ve noticed here in recent years, if life has gotten harder, and what might be done about it.
I got so much great feedback. Many thanked me for sharing my story and even shared stories of their own. Thank you all so much! I’m grateful to have such a strong and knowledgeable community. Here’s some of what I heard:
“There hasn’t been time for family as people work so hard to earn a living. And being successful has meant that one doesn’t really need to do the other stuff like farming which people see it as hard and the lowest of the citizens and those that have failed in school are condemned to farm labourers while those that made it manage the rest of the affairs after that. Yes life has become harder and it will steadily continue to do so until we all realize that it takes the whole to end some of these problems. The whole world is like one big body. Other parts won’t function at their best when other parts are hurting.”
— Tafadzwa Matamba
“Escalating costs, lack of community support networks, missing integrated family bonds and the unrelenting ‘creep’ of costs all compound the issues. Awareness and bringing these subjects to the spotlight is all of our responsibilities. Food, shelter, health, safety — all paramount first and foremost. Sometimes I think about fighting for old growth trees, addressing climate change, discussing economic development and then pause, thinking that there are people who at this very moment are just wanting a warm bed to sleep.”
— Chris Istace
“You touched on most concerns that happen on a daily basis, all true. Life in general is becoming more difficult. I see our community struggling on a daily basis, always in a survival mode. Some type of support for mental health is required. Being community minded is important.”
king the time to contribute your experiences. Next week, I’d like to share some examples of home-grown solutions to these issues taking root in the community. From youth centres to food banks, I know there’s a lot to celebrate. Send me an email with your suggestions.
April 16 marked the National Day of Action on the Overdose Crisis, and a small crowd gathered on the side of the Trans-Canada Highway in Duncan. Thirty-one white crosses lined the roadside, one for each of the overdose deaths in the Cowichan Valley last year.
One of them was for Jesse Patton, who died in 2018 at the age of 30. Several friends and family members came out, wearing black hoodies adorned with his name.
“He was a good guy. He was well-loved and still well-loved in the community,” says his mom, Cathie Griffith. “Really good guy, had an addiction issue, and just did the wrong shit one night and died.”
Jesse’s friend Shane Jung says he’s lost many of his closest friends and former classmates to addictions — they’re dead, or homeless, or close to it. “Our valley is suffering like I’ve never seen. I’ve never, ever seen it,” he says.
“We all didn’t know what we were dealing with until it became too late,” says Shane. “Everybody thought it was a good time, until it wasn’t. I’m left, when I get married, having nobody standing beside me, just pictures. For me, it just absolutely needs to stop.”
His mission now is to educate the next generations, so the same thing doesn’t happen to them, he says. “It’s going to be tough saving ours now.”
News of the week
- Cowichan local government leaders met other local politicians for the annual Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities convention this week. One of many resolutionspassed called for the government of B.C. to work with communities to make a safer drug supply available to people at risk of overdose.
- The Cowichan Watershed Board joined politicians and officials in Victoria last week to work toward a plan to rebuild the Cowichan Lake weir. Despite the recent rain, lake levels are still well below normal for this time of year.
- Community members walked on Saturday, April 13 to remember the missing and murdered men, women and children of the Cowichan Valley, the Cowichan Valley Citizen reports.
- April 18: Catch local songstress Hanna Elise live at the Duncan Showroom, with special guests Michael Wilford, Jesse Carvalho, and Billy-Jim Gree.
- April 20: Join residents for a clean-up effort along the downtown banks of the Cowichan River. Lunch and hot drinks will be provided.
- April 21: The HUB at Cowichan Station hosts another Easter Eggstravaganza, featuring crafts, games and activities for kids, and of course the obligatory Easter egg hunt.
- April 22: It’s a B’Earth Day Party! Celebrate 4.5 billion trips around the sun for the planet, and seven for the Cowichan Estuary Nature centre. There will be nature-themed fun and cake.