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#WeSeeYou Campaign for International Overdose Awareness Day

August 31, 2023

August 31st is International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD), the biggest annual campaign globally to "end overdose, remember without stigma those who have died from overdose, and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind." The origins of the annual campaign date back to 2001, initially founded by Sally J Finn from The Salvation Army in St. Kilda, Melbourne, Australia. Since then, community members, government and non-governmental organizations in Australia and beyond have held events to commemorate those lost to drug overdose.  


Graphic courtesy of Addiction and Mental Health Ontario


This year, 23 countries, including Canada, are participating in IOAD events. In Canada alone, at least 127 events are being held nationwide for IOAD. This year's theme, "recognizing those people who go unseen," is a tribute to the lives touched by overdose. Communities around the world are honouring those in our communities affected by an overdose who often go unseen. This includes family, friends, and loved ones who are grieving the loss of a loved one to overdose, first responders, health care workers, and peer support providers. Their stories deserve to be heard, and their courage inspires us all.  


According to the official website, the following goals have been outlined for International Overdose Awareness Day:  


  • "To provide an opportunity for people to publicly mourn loved ones in a safe environment, some for the first time without feeling guilt or shame.  

  • To include the greatest number of people in International Overdose Awareness Day events and encourage non-denominational involvement.  

  • To provide information about the issue of fatal and non-fatal overdose.  

  • To send a strong message to current and former people who use drugs that they are valued.  

  • To stimulate discussion about overdose prevention and drug policy.  

  • To provide basic information on the range of support services that are available.  

  • To prevent and reduce drug-related harm by supporting evidence-based policy and practice.  

  • To inform people around the world about the risk of overdose." 


In support of this year's theme, the #WeSeeYou campaign is dedicated to those in our communities who often remain unnoticed. On this Overdose Awareness Day, let's unite to show our support to all community members impacted by overdose. 


Below, you can find a list of resources, Ontario-wide, Canada-wide, and globally for IOAD.