Toronto: The problem of drug overdose in the Canadian province of British Columbia may even lead to the death of many students from India.
The case comes amid reports of multiple deaths of students, mostly from Punjab, at a single gurdwara in the town of Surrey in the Metro Vancouver area.
The tragic incident was first reported by the outlet Press Progress, which reported that the bodies of such young victims were being prepared for cremation and that the remains would be flown back to India via Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib in Surrey. Is.
Gurdwara president Giani Narendra Singh Walia told Hindustan Times that since November last year, he has come across six cases of drug overdose deaths of young students in Punjab. In fact, the gurudwara is preparing to repatriate the remains of the latest victim to India on January 24.
The reason for knowing the cause of death is that the parents of the victims often approach the gurdwara and give them power of attorney to help make these arrangements. As a result, the Gurudwara receives post-mortem reports from the British Columbia Coroner’s Service. The Gurudwara has been acting in this way for the past two years regarding the untimely death of students and so far 16 cases have come to their knowledge and most of the victims were youths.
One of the reasons behind the tragic incident, he felt, was the “pressure” the students were under. “Their parents dream big for them in Canada. Then the reality on the ground is faced with how difficult life can be here and some turn to drugs for support.
“They’re 18, 19, 20 years old, facing reality here. They’re suffering from depression, anxiety, a lot of stress,” he said.
This has an added complication because the issue is rarely raised in the community due to the stigma associated with drug use. Walia said he is planning to address the issue by holding a seminar in February. “If we want to save others, we have to talk openly about it,” he said.
This opinion is shared by others, such as the South Asian Mental Health Alliance, which tweeted, “These issues are not new. They have just been swept under the rug over and over. Please, don’t let it happen anymore.” “
Drug overdoses have been a major problem in British Columbia in recent years. A total of 1,644 lives were lost to toxic drugs between January and September 2022, the highest number recorded in the first nine months of a calendar year, the provincial government said.
However, race-specific data on killings are not collected by the authorities, so the impact on the Indo-Canadian community can only be gauged from anecdotal information from sources such as Surrey Gurudwaras. This, of course, captures only a fraction of the overall crisis that has led people like Walia to demand that information be produced and released to understand the scale of the problem.