By Will Yannacoulias
Another year, another provincial budget with no support for Prairie Harm Reduction. As the opiate addiction crisis in Saskatchewan worsens, the supervised consumption site in Saskatoon continues to rely on donations and fundraisers to operate. The Sask indie music community came together again on July 8th to raise desperately needed funds for PHR, putting well over $2000 into the community group's coffers. A volunteer group led by Adam Meng invited Tadoma, 66 Aces, Old Tolerated, Driveway Legends and Alien To The Ignorant as well as drag performer Ivana Beer and poet Elise Pallagi to perform for a packed room, all in support of an overlooked but essential community service. NSMZ spoke with some of the performers about why they volunteered and asked for their thoughts on the provincial government continually choosing not to fund PHR.
"It's very important to me, in five days I'll be sober for a year and I recently just hit two years clean, The reason I decided to get clean was because I've lost some people to addictions. If there would have been something like Prairie Harm Reduction around when those people were in their 'partying' days maybe we wouldn't have experienced that loss. PHR is super important to me and I was really hoping to be asked to perform at this event."- Ivana Beer
"Every year they don't get funding it's upsetting to see and I'm always happy to do something to help them out."- Ivana Beer
"When we saw that Adam was organizing this we jumped on it as fast as we could. Around here addiction and overdoses are common and it's tragic how lives are lost and families torn apart. PHR not only gives people a safe place to use but also keeps the streets cleaner and provides other resources for other supports. We have to move past the stigma of using drugs, it's a normal part of life and everyone's a person first."- Swade Orchard, Alien To The Ignorant
"It's healthcare- there's no other way to put it. If the government is not gonna do it we gotta step up, you can't be a bystander. If you can make a difference why wouldn't you?" - Swade Orchard, Alien To The Ignorant
"I'm guessing there wasn't a soul in this room who hasn't had their life touched by addictions or dealt with it themselves. I used to be a much heavier 'partier' and I've lost a few friends to their demons along the way. I feel it's important to have something like PHR so there's a safe place for people to consume and to have access to care should they choose to take it. I'm thankful for the work PHR does in the city to help keep people alive, because I miss the friends of mine who didn't make it." - Elise Pallagi
"We have a govt here that really doesn't really care about the poor and vulnerable. The Lighthouse used to have a detox, that's gone, funding for support services has been cut to the bone. I believe something needs to be done and if the government isn't gonna do it, thankfully folks like Adam at the community level will." - Elise Pallagi
"Prairie Harm Reduction is the charity that we chose for this event, because every single member of our group has been touched in a negative way by addictions of one form or another. Maybe through family, maybe through friends or maybe just other people in the community that had an impact on us. Programs like this are often overlooked and may not get as much funding. At the end of the day these people save lives. So if we can say we had a part of even this one of those lives being saved then maybe we can chalk that up to a little good karma and sleep a little better at night." - Shawn Ashdown, Old Tolerated.
"People that are in trouble don’t often know where to go. They’ve often already burnt bridges everywhere they can think to go and it’s important for them to know that there is organizations like this one. If you’re hurting, don’t be afraid to ask for help there are people out there who want to help you." - Shawn Ashdown, Old Tolerated.
Prairie Harm Reduction continues to rely on communities support to operate- to learn more or donate directly please visit https://prairiehr.ca