To focus on substance use-related death, a photo campaign is being planned for Powell River.
Darlana Treloar, a member of the Moms Stop the Harm organization, wants to replicate photographs taken in other cities to humanize the issue of drug-related deaths. The Powell River photo will be done in the name of Moms Stop the Harm.
Treloar said that in Kelowna in 2019, members of Moms Stop the Harm created an awareness campaign for people who have been lost to overdose or substance use-related death.
“They had crosses and had a picture taken,” said Treloar. “It was a powerful visual. That picture is now on their buses.”
Treloar said one was also done at Jericho Beach in Vancouver.
“What this does is it humanizes people who have been lost to substances,” she said. “It helps families who are grieving.
“It will help to reduce some stigma towards people who use substances. People are dying at an alarming rate. There’s toxic drugs out there now. Now that fentanyl’s out there, it’s a game-changer and people need to change the way they think about addiction and be more caring.”
Treloar said people who are addicted are struggling, they feel shame and are scared to talk about it. She knows the subject well, having lost her son Sean Treloar to addiction in 2016 at the age of 27.
“My son got addicted to prescription pills when he was a teenager,” said Treloar. “When he came to me for help, he told me he had no idea what he was getting into when he started.
“He passed away from fentanyl poisoning on Glacier Street. I have been advocating ever since he passed away.”
Treloar said an overdose prevention site has opened in near proximity to where he died. She added that people are really trying to understand why having the facility is a good thing, so the campaign will also help with that.
In terms of the photograph, Treloar said she wants to get people together and have this picture taken to raise awareness about how many people are affected here in Powell River.
“There’s more than people know,” she said. “I just really think it makes a powerful statement. It needs to be talked about.”
The photograph will be taken on Saturday, January 25, at 1 pm at the old Civic Arena site adjacent to Willingdon Beach.
In preparation for the event, Treloar said she will be making some crosses and has already checked into how to make them.
The Powell River photograph will include people who have lost someone.
“I just want the rest of Powell River to be aware of the fact that we are just people,” said Treloar. “There are a lot of people out there who don’t understand what’s going on and are in the old mindset that drugs are bad and people who use drugs are bad. I want that to change.
“People are struggling hard to get off of this stuff. It’s very potent and it’s not easy.”
Treloar said she will be approaching individuals she knows have lost people to substance use-related death to be in the photograph. There may be others in the community who want to participate; they can contact her on Facebook at Darlana Tilley-Treloar. She can also be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I know quite a few people who I will reach out to personally, and then I’m hoping others will come forward and message me,” she said. “I’m asking for people to contact me so I know how many want to participate in the photo.”
Treloar said Willingdon Beach is the logical location for the photograph, which is where the addictions bench she had put in three years ago has been placed. It is also the location where the international overdose awareness days are held. Treloar is hoping the weather will cooperate.
The photograph, when taken, will be in the news and all over social media, said Treloar. People who would like to participate in the photo shoot need to wear all black, she added, and have an eight by 10 photo of their loved one.
Helping Treloar with Moms Stop the Harm events and campaigns are Rob Fitzpatrick, Maureen Christensen and Lyn Nicol.