Purple ribbons, white roses to be placed around Edmonton to honour victims of opioids

Members of Edmonton's medical community are spearheading a movement this weekend to honour lives lost to opioids in and around the city.

Purple ribbons and white roses will be placed around 76 communities in Edmonton, Wetaskiwin and Ponoka.

It's part of opioid memorial weekend, a campaign the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association hopes will create awareness about the opioid crisis in Alberta.

"We want people to understand that every death, every poisoning death is a preventable tragedy," said Edmonton Medical Zone Association's Dr. Ginetta Salvaggio. "We want that acknowledged."

Each memorial is meant to pay tribute to the neighbourhoods that have lost a community member to that "preventable tragedy."

This weekend the Opioid Poisoning Committee is placing memorials of purple ribbons & white roses Edmonton, Ponoka, & Wetaskiwin where an opioid death has occurred.

Place your own flowers & ribbons to remember.
Click here for a map and details:https://t.co/BwlbbaM2nH pic.twitter.com/h67mu6BtS6

— Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association (@EZMSA2) October 13, 2021

One local bar owner heard about the cause and felt the need to take part.

"This isn't just happening in the downtown core, this is happening to your neighbor," Darren McGeown told CTV News Edmonton. "Something needs to be done and it starts here in our communities."

"We are seeing an ongoing escalation of opioid poisoning deaths in the Edmonton zone," Dr. Salvaggio said.

According to the Government of Alberta's Substance Use Surveillance System, opioid-related deaths have increased since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The province's statistics show in July of 2019 there were 21 opioid-related deaths in Edmonton. In July of 2020, 59 opioid-related deaths were reported in the city, and 55 were reported this past July.

Last week, a new app designed to save opioid users from overdosing was launched by the province in Edmonton.

The Alberta government said it was also exploring options for new supervised consumption services in "underserved" areas in Edmonton.

Dr. Salvaggio points to the elimination of supervised consumption sites as a cause for the uptick in overdoses, an epidemic she hopes to turn around.

"We are wanting to highlight how broad the reach of this poisoning emergency is."

The Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association says the memorials will be neatly disposed of by the end of the weekend.