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Editorial: Don’t skip the tent

If you’re at the Royal St. John’s Regatta, you really should take in a few of the games of chance and support a charity or two. Eat a hotdog or a samosa or some fresh-cut fries. Watch the hard work of the racers, the excited and scrambling children, the seething mass of humanity politely edging past each other along the paths by the pond.

And while you’re at it, if you see it, there’s a tent you should have a look at.

The St. John’s Action Committee on Fentanyl is going to have a pop-up information tent on the drug, something that’s been done at the Exploits Valley Salmon Festival, at the Mundy Pond Regatta, at the Shea Heights Folk Festival and during Canada Day events.

There have been a series of deaths right across Canada because of opioids contaminated with fentanyl, an extremely powerful drug that is making its mark in this province and leading to overdose deaths.

The information tent offers education on drug use and overdose risks, as well as hands-on help: training for, and the distribution of, Naloxone kits. Proper administration of Naloxone can save the lives of overdose victims — the drug reverses the effects of fentanyl so that victims can get to the hospital for proper care.

The pop-up tent is just another way to try and get Naloxone kits into the hands of the people who need them.

And getting information and tools into the right hands can be extremely difficult, especially if those hands are not in the usual places.

Reaching marginalized people is not the easiest process; they may not see material posted on traditional media sites or publications, and it is far too easy to make a token effort to inform people, shrug your shoulders, say you did your best, and move on.

Even getting right out in public with information at a large event can be challenging: perhaps the tent will be avoided by some who need the information, perhaps others will pass quick and easy judgment.

But the people who are being affected by the fentanyl crisis are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters.

And don’t believe for a minute that there isn’t a chance that it could be someone you know and love; many who overdose on the drug don’t even know what it is they they’ve taken, or even that they are at risk until it’s too late.

The purpose behind the Action Committee is simple and laudable: “The goal of the group is to increase public awareness about drug use and overdose, and put take home Naloxone kits directly into the hands of those who need them.”

If you see the tent, go in. Look. Learn.

You might learn something that ends up being critically important to you or someone else.

Knowledge is a powerful thing.

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