By Will Yannacoulias
The Saskatoon music scene’s support for Prairie Harm Reduction will continue on July 16th, as Amigo’s Cantina will host a fundraiser for Saskatoon’s only supervised consumption site. DJ Dan Watson will MC a night of visual art from Ghost House Studio and music from Crashed Out, Lucy’s Seduction and Soul Mates. NSMZ invited several of the performers to explain the importance of Prairie Harm Reduction in our community and detail why they chose to fundraise for the service.
Opioid overdoses are an ongoing crisis in Saskatchewan, claiming the lives of 464 residents in 2021. PHR is proud that of the approximately 500 unique and repeat clients they’ve provided services to, the site has experienced only four overdoses and no deaths. “I work in the core, and know that more people than ever are dying of overdoses in Saskatoon” Lindsey Rewuski of Ghost House Studio told NSMZ. “Opioid use is up and things are getting more desperate. I personally know people struggling with this. Connecting people in need to hope and healing should concern all of us. PHR is a key step in doing this and I’m proud to support them in any way I can.”
The provincial government increased spending for addictions and mental health by $9.5 million for 2022, but PHR was completely shut out of of the budget for the third year in a row, operating entirely on fundraising and donations. “This is a much needed and proven community resource in Saskatoon that should be funded by the Saskatchewan government” members of Crashed Out told NSMZ. “Instead they choose to do nothing and offer no help in the face of what is clearly a public health emergency, which is pretty pathetic and numbingly normal from this government.”
Rising numbers of overdoses and the highest rate of drug-related HIV infection in Canada means that unsupported addiction has touched the lives of almost everyone in Saskatchewan. “We have all seen friends and family fall through the cracks of the system” said members of the band Lucy’s Seduction. “The work that Prairie Harm Reduction does saves lives, period.”
Saskatoon band Soul Mates succinctly explained to NSMZ the inspiration for the show. “Our premier likes to claim our province is ‘strong’ while he completely ignores the needs of the most vulnerable. Even our so called ‘progressive’ mayor has increased the police budget, taking away much needed funds from programs that help to strengthen our community and our society as a whole.”
“Harm reduction is activism and it is love” they concluded. “It is a way for us to educate and help each other in a racist colonial state that intends to leave people behind. Prairie Harm Reduction is saving lives and building community and that is why we are putting our collective efforts behind them.”
Join DJ Dan Watson, Ghost House Studios, Crashed Out, Lucy’s Addiction and Soul Mates at Amigos Cantina on July 16th to show your support for PHR. To learn more or donate directly please visit https://prairiehr.ca