Letters to the Editor: End the stigma of drug addiction

Letters to the Editor: End the stigma of drug addiction

Plus fires are a natural part of our forests.

Dear Editor,

The question is not when our government will decriminalize personal possession and provide a safe clean drug source, like we do for alcohol and soon marijuana; but how many more families will be devastated by the loss of a loved one before a government is brave enough to value lives over votes.

In Portugal, possession is not a criminal offence if you have a 10-day personal supply in your possession. If it is more than that then it’s treated as trafficking. By decriminalizing personal possession, we can then start to get rid of the negative stigma that is associated with addiction.

People are being poisoned and dying due to a clean source not being available.

Research has shown that people can lead normal lives and positively contribute to society if clean drugs are available.

Clean marijuana will be legal and offered for sale soon, just like alcohol. Our oldest son, Ryan, first experimented with alcohol and then marijuana. These gateway drugs led to him to using stronger drugs, ending with heroin and his tragic death from fentanyl poisoning on April 24, 2017.

How can our system legalize certain drugs and then, when people become addicted to stronger ones, they are then treated as criminals for simple possession? How come we provide safe injection sites, yet it is illegal to have those substances in your possession?

With this current poisoning crisis, we know what will make a difference:

Provide a safe clean source for opiates and other drugs;

Decriminalize personal possession, like Portugal did; and

End the stigma of addiction by treating it as the disease it is, not as a choice.

These things can stop the horrific and inexcusable number of deaths in our families.

Contact your MP and MLA to tell our governments to do these things, and save lives now.

John and Jennifer Hedican

Courtenay, B.C.

Dear Editor,

Fire has long played a vital role in the ecological balance of forests. From grass fires to stand-replacing fires to small natural wildfires to fires historically carried out by Indigenous peoples across their traditional territories, fire has the ability to regenerate life and promote the growth of plants and trees.

Of course, fire can also be devastating. This summer we have been witness to the terrible power that can decimate homes and communities and endanger livelihoods. The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) would like to take this opportunity to express our condolences and support for all those affected by the fires.

The wildfires have also had an effect on NCC’s plans this summer. In July, after the Province declared a state of emergency, we made the decision to suspend access to all of NCC’s conservation lands in British Columbia in order to reduce the risk of human-caused fires. Although this decision limited public access to beautiful natural areas, delayed important stewardship work, and resulted in the cancellation of volunteer events, it was important to us as an organization to prioritize public safety.

NCC’s lands were largely untouched by this summer’s wildfires, with the exception of a portion of Kootenay River Ranch as part of the Island Pond fire in August, a few small and quickly contained fires on Darkwoods, and some potential but as yet unconfirmed impact on NCC’s conservation holdings in the Klinankini Valley.

With the onset of cooler, wetter weather and the decreased fire risk across most of the province, the Nature Conservancy of Canada is once again welcoming visitors to many of its B.C. conservation areas. Under normal conditions we encourage and welcome low-impact recreation use of these special sites, and we are happy to open them up to the public once more. We thank you for respecting the closures, and welcome locals and tourists alike to visit these spectacular examples of B.C.’s natural diversity.

Part of the challenge for conservation groups and all those involved in the management of land is reducing the risk of wildfires while protecting public safety and the balance of natural systems. With the changing climate conditions, as well as efforts to suppress fires, there are increasing amounts of fuel stored in forests, which raises the chance of catastrophic wildfire such as we have seen. In the face of a changing climate, managing fuel and fire risk will be one of the most important stewardship activities NCC can do.

At the Nature Conservancy of Canada, we seek to conserve land in ways that support natural systems, increase ecological resilience, and reduce habitat loss. Through prescribed burns and fuel reduction programs such as those at NCC’s Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve on Vancouver Island and on lands in the East Kootenay, we have seen how controlled fire and fuel reduction can create space for native plants and species to thrive while creating fire resilient systems. We hope to find more ways to support these regenerative fires in the future, and minimize the destructive power of wildfires over the land.

Hillary Page

Director of Science and Stewardship

Nature Conservancy of Canada


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