B.C. Interior elders and chiefs declare state of emergency over fentanyl

Windsor-Essex Crime Stoppers offering $1,000 for fentanyl trafficking tips

With numbers from Interior Health showing 20 per cent of illicit drug overdoses occurring in people who identify as First Nations, Secwepmc elders and chiefs in B.C.'s Interior have declared a state of emergency over the fentanyl crisis.

The health authority's numbers include fatal and non fatal overdoses.

The Shuswap Nation Tribal Council (SNTC) chiefs are calling on the First Nations Health Council, RCMP and Interior Health to work with them to battle drug overdoses in their communities.

"I'm actually going to take it up a little further and investigate ... get some letters to the [federal] ministers responsible and get them to do something," said Chief Wayne Christian of the Splatsin Nation near Enderby in B.C.'s Interior.

In a statement, the SNTC says "immediate action needs to be taken to inform citizens on the presence of fentanyl in street drugs, the symptoms and probability of overdoses and the treatment options available."

Christian says Interior Health has done a great job of getting information about fentanyl to the public, but he wants to make sure more people are aware if it.

"I think people need to step up and start educating themselves," he said.  "It has a real impact on our people," Christian said.

He says he personally has lost a co-worker to a fentanyl overdose and knew a young man from his community who was living in Vancouver when he died from an overdose.

"You can see that it sort of hits us in many different ways," Christian said.

"[Fentanyl] doesn't discriminate, it impacts everybody."

With files from Daybreak Kamloops