Letter to Members | Health State of Emergency

To the Squamish People,

We are facing an unprecedented health crisis.

2023 was one of the most devastating years on record for toxic drug overdoses and overdose deaths in the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw. The toxic drug overdose crisis we are currently facing has far-reaching consequences, touching every one of us in the community.

Ensuring the health and safety of our Members is Nexwsxwníw̓ntm ta Úxwumixw (Council)’s number one priority. That is why Nexwsxwníw̓ntm ta Úxwumixw recently voted in favour of a resolution declaring a community Health State of Emergency. The goal of declaring a Health State of Emergency is to save lives and create a safer community for all.

This resolution will enable Nexwsxwníw̓ntm ta Úxwumixw to escalate this pressing issue and immediately request additional support from the federal, provincial, neighbouring local governments, and local law enforcement agencies in order to deliver a comprehensive and culturally appropriate response to this health emergency.

This holistic approach will enable the Nation to work collaboratively with its departments and health provider partners to both increase access to existing Member services (both on- and off-reserve) and create additional services, including:

  • Safe consumption (harm reduction) strategies
  • Drug checking sites and community education
  • Distributing safe use supplies and Naloxone training
  • Supervised drug consumption site(s)
  • Primary care providers (Family Physicians and Nurse Practitioners)
  • Mobile Outreach & Overdose Prevention Unit
  • Detox and addictions treatment (counselling, medication such as OAT)
  • Mental health and substance use disorder supports (to maintain sobriety and relapse prevention)
  • Culturally appropriate temporary emergency housing options
  • A Trauma-Informed Community Safety Team
  • Additional social programs as required

We will announce further details of the additional resources and strategies available in the coming weeks.

To find more information, please head to: www.squamish.net/toxic-drug-crisis. If you are need of support or would like more details concerning existing community resources, please contact Yúustway (Health & Wellness):

Office hours support: Monday – Friday, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm
Mackenzie Gomez – Manager, Community Health and Wellness at Yúustway
Phone: 604-360-3911 or 604-982-7812
Email: Mackenzie_Gomez@squamish.net

After hours support
Danielle Hearns – Mental Health & Substance Use Clinician at Yúustway
Phone: 604-351-5776
Email: Danielle_Hearns@squamish.net

Harm Reduction support
Betty Ferguson – Harm Reduction Program Lead/Wellness Coordinator at Yúustway
Phone: 236-788-1977
Email: Betty_Ferguson@squamish.net

Chet wanáxwstúmi (respectfully),

Squamish Nation Council

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