Prairie Harm Reduction launched a clothing line Friday morning with proceeds going toward its safe consumption site.
“We’re hopeful that we’ll keep expanding our branding and keep expanding our messaging that harm reduction on the prairies is needed,” said executive director Jason Mercredi.
The clothing line features five designs based on tarot cards including judgement, justice, death, the tower and the hermit.
The designs are featured on t-shirts, crewneck sweaters and throw blankets.
Mercredi said tarot cards have dual meanings and represent the way things are right now with the overdose crisis in the province and how it could be improved.
“A lot of people when we were talking about the safe consumption site, had a lot of predictions that basically the end-times are coming but we really haven't seen any negative impacts.”
He said on top of that, there needs to be a change in how the government deals with addictions.
“When we have a record number of overdoses happening in the community and it’s been happening month over month, that's not acceptable. We needed a line of clothing that talks about the way things are and the way things could be,” he said.
Mercredi said another goal of this project is to support young, local artists. The line was designed by three Saskatoon artists, two of whom are Métis.
The justice design was created by an artist from Chokecherry Studios and is based on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, according to Mercredi.
He said 50 per cent of the proceeds from that line are going toward Chokecherry Studios, a local non-profit organization that offers art programming to young people.
The judgement design features local advocate Marie Agioritis’ 19-year-old son Kelly who died of an overdose in early 2015.
He is depicted as an angel in the design distributing Narcan kits to people in a wheat field.
“It is symbolic of a whole lot of effort and a lot of tragic loss for a lot of families. So, yeah it makes me feel overwhelmingly proud of all the families that are fighting for it and overwhelmingly proud of my kid, even in his death that he’s making a difference,” Agioritis said.
Agioritis, who is also the Saskatchewan leader for Moms Stop the Harm, said Mercredi surprised her with a blanket with the design on Wednesday night.
“I thanked him and I looked at it and I said, ‘wow,’ and then I shut the door and I sat down and I wrapped myself in it and cried because it’s been a long journey.”
Agioritis echoed the need for more funding and support for harm reduction agencies like Prairie Harm Reduction.
“We’re going to see not only the benefits to the people that do struggle but the benefits to the safety of our community as a whole,” she said.
The clothing line is on the Prairie Harm Reduction website.
Mercredi expects the items to sell out fast, adding that once theye’re gone, they don’t plan on restocking them as they will be focusing on their next line.
With a lack of funding from the government, Mercredi said the money raised from this clothing line will go towards the organization’s goal of opening the safe consumption site around the clock, seven days a week.
“We’re trying to raise as much money as we can so that we can expand our hours into the evening and engage more people, get them connected to care on their path to recovery, but to do that, we have to be able to offer services.”