Judith Conway’s memorial on her back fence in Comox overlooking Guthrie Road. Photo submitted.

Comox display visual representation of lives lost to overdose

When Judith Conway visited a local fabric store for supplies a few days ago, she expected it to be a quick trip.

An hour later, Conway found herself in the Comox Valley store, purchases ready to go, listening to other people share their stories.

The conversation began after they asked Conway what she was doing with the material she had purchased.

“The idea just came to me, and within a few days, I contacted a few ladies. I really wanted to show a good visual of how many people die (of overdoses), and a string seemed like a good idea.”

At the west end of the display, three rows of empty white flags hang with small red hearts, representing people who are predicted to die this week from an overdose. Photo submitted

The Comox resident decided she would create a memorial display on her back fence – which spans more than 100 feet – to those who lost their lives to drug overdoses. A string was placed in a vertical zig-zag pattern in order to fit with yarn tied to it (one for every person who died of an overdose in Canada last year) and it is topped with a row of colourful flags – each with a name on it, representing primarily victims from the Comox Valley.

“It’s so surprising – there’s still so much stigma and shame that surrounds it. It seems like everyone was affected,” she noted as she recalled the stories shared in the fabric store.

Last year, Conway lost her son to a fentanyl overdose and wanted to create the display in time for International Overdose Awareness Day set for Aug. 31.

“I’ve been pretty outspoken and I want to break down the same and stigma, especially when you realize how staggering this is becoming.”

This display – which is across from the Comox Public Works building on Guthrie Road – has been up for a few days, and Conway is hoping to keep it up for a few weeks.

At the west end of the display, three rows of empty white flags hang with small red hearts, representing people who are predicted to die in B.C. this week from an overdose.

Conway has a plastic bag attached to the display filled with purple ribbons – symbolic of overdose awareness – and encourages anyone to stop by and tie a ribbon for those who have died or are suffering.

“We have about 40 ribbons (so far), and they are increasing in numbers daily. Cars are driving by slowly and people have been stopping me – that’s really an amazing thing.”

While she admitted to never have attempted a project similar to this before, Conway explained the goal is to raise awareness of drug overdoses within the community and beyond. She used weather-resistant ink and hopes the display will stay up for a few weeks.

According to the most recent data released by the BC Coroners Service, there have been 17 illicit drug overdose deaths on north Vancouver Island in the first seven months of 2018. In B.C., there were 134 suspected drug overdose deaths in July – about 4.3 deaths per day for the month.

 

Friends of Judith Conway assisted with the memorial project. Photo submitted

Just Posted

Comox Valley’s school district surplus to support boundary review costs

Board of education passes spending plan but only in principle to give it flexibility

Courtenay-Alberni NDP MP Gord Johns says Scheer’s resignation not surprising

Pressure is on NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, as the lone major party leader remaining in the opposition

Mount Washington receives more than 30cm of snow

Last week, the resort announced they were pushing back opening day due to lack of snow.

Comox Valley Connector making streets safer during holiday season

The Comox Valley Connector is back for the festive season. Ambassador Transportation… Continue reading

Nutcracker coming to Courtenay’s Sid Williams Theatre

What signs let you know that the holiday season has truly started?… Continue reading

‘Not a decision I came to lightly:’ Scheer to resign as Conservative leader

Decision comes after weeks of Conservative infighting following the October election

‘British Columbians are paying too much’: Eby directs ICBC to delay rate application

Attorney General David Eby calls for delay in order to see how two reforms play out

VIDEO: Octopus, bald eagle battle after bird ‘bites off more than it can chew’ in B.C. waters

B.C. crew films fight between the two feisty animals in Quatsino off north Vancouver Island

Couple who bought $120k banana duct-taped to wall say artwork will be ‘iconic’

Pair compared it to Warhol’s ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans,’ which was initially ‘met with mockery’

Race to replace Andrew Scheer could be a crowded one

Many familiar faces, such as Maxime Bernier, Jason Kenney, Doug Ford and Kevin O’Leary, have said no

North Island-Powell River MP surprised by Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s resignation

But it doesn’t change anything for the NDP, Rachel Blaney says

Courtenay-Alberni MP calls for emergency package to deal with salmon crisis

Courtenay-Alberni NDP MP Gord Johns has called on the federal government to… Continue reading

Owner surrenders dogs chained up outside among scrap metal, garbage to BC SPCA

Shepherd-breed dogs were living in ‘deplorable conditions.’

Most Read