Drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians who have used Vancouver's Burrard Bridge crossing during the last two days of August encountered an unusual sight: Hundreds of pairs of shoes tied to the walkway with purple ribbon.
The shoes were placed on the Burrard Bridge on August 30 to mark Overdose Awareness Day on August 31. A group called Moms Stop the Harm (MSTH) is behind the effort, and the shoes represent the number of people lost to drug overdose deaths in B.C. in the months of May, June and July.
There were 175 overdose deaths in B.C. in July 2020 alone. According to figures released earlier in August, B.C. recorded 909 illicit drug deaths between January 1 and July 31.
MSTH organized pop-up shoe display, called "Lost Soles: Gone Too Soon" by collecting donations of shoes from across the region. Tied with ribbons using the overdose awareness campaign's signature purple, the shoes also bore messages about ending the stigma of overdose deaths - many of the messages deeply personal and honouring a loved one who has died.
August 31 “is a day to remember loved ones who have been lost to this crisis and show our support for their families and friends as they continue to grieve. Each and every person who died was the light of someone’s life, and their absence leaves a profound void," said B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy.
Events were held across the province, nation, and around the world to mark Overdose Awareness Day. In B.C., a ticketed online candlelight vigil included remarks from MSTH's Leslie McBain and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
In Vancouver, local landmarks were lit in purple Monday for Overdose Awareness Day.
The shoe display will be dismantled today, September 1, and the shoes donated to various organizations and sites in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
Here are some photos of the “Lost Soles: Gone Too Soon” display:
Living with a person struggling from substance abuse is overwhelming and all consuming. The extreme joy + desperate sorrow is like nothing you can imagine. I walked to this installation today and held onto the railing and cried for the heartbreaking loss. #nationaloverdoseawarenessday @momsstoptheharm
If you can take the time to walk across Burrard St Bridge. I found it very impactful & quite emotional! Soles represent Souls. Vancouver International Overdose Awareness Day. #endoverdose #msth #momsstoptheharm #vancouver #yvr #burrardstreetbridge #carryonvancouver #overdose #overdoseawareness #overdoseawarenessday
“Lost Soles: Gone Too Soon" B.C. is recording record overdose deaths month over month. The province’s coroner reports that in July 2020, there were 175 overdose deaths related to suspected drug toxicity and was the 3rd month in a row with more than 170 drug overdoes deaths in B.C. Today on International Overdose Awareness Day, we would like to spotlight BC’s other health crisis - the drug overdose crisis. The Canada-wide support group “Moms Stop The Harm” have installed an awareness-raising art display of over 600 pairs of shoes along the Burrard Street Bridge. Each shoe represents a life lost to a drug-related death since Covid began. With our Shoe Renu program currently on hold we were able to donate over 250 pairs of used shoes to help put a spotlight on this crisis. The display is there until September 1st and then the shoes will be given to those in need. For more information visit @momsstoptheharm stoptheharm or the link in our bio. #overdoseawareness #stopthestigma #vancouver #racketsandrunners