KSA Hosts Pub Night to Fight Fentanyl

Proceeds from fundraiser support the Overdose Prevention Society

KSA VP Student life Natasha Lopes stands with KPU president Alan Davis at at the KSA’s fundraiser supporting the the Overdose Prevention Society at Brewsters pub on January 13th. (Joseph Keller)

The Kwantlen Student Association gave KPU students a chance to help with one of the most serious humanitarian issues in the Lower Mainland, all while enjoying some burgers and brews.

The fundraiser to fight fentanyl was held on Friday, Jan. 13 at Brewsters Pub, not far from KPU Surrey campus. Tickets were $20 and included one burger and one beer per admission. All proceeds from the event, and the accompanying silent auction, went to support the Overdose Prevention Society, a local organisation helping save lives against the ongoing fentanyl opiate epidemic in Metro Vancouver. The event was the first pub night-style fundraiser held by the KSA in over five years. After all was said and done the event raised $714.50 for the organisation.

“The KSA, myself, and the other executives wanted to do something to support our community,” says KSA VP Student Life Natasha Lopes. “I came up with the idea about supporting an organisation on the frontlines of saving people’s lives from fentanyl and from overdosing.”

The event was attended by dozens of members of the KPU community, including several KSA members, and even a few representatives from other student unions around the Lower Mainland. KPU president Alan Davis made an appearance at the event as well.

Over the past few years, fentanyl has taken a serious toll on the Metro Vancouver community. Since the crisis began in 2015, there have been hundreds of deaths in the Lower Mainland connected to the potent and deadly opiate. The substance can be found in four out of every five drug samples collected Vancouver Coastal Health, according to a December report by Metro News.

“So many students, so many people have been touched by fentanyl,” says Lopes. “A ton of my friends, unfortunately, have had to deal with it and I know I’m not the only one. I know that it’s not a unique problem to me and it has really hurt the student culture. It’s really hurt youth culture, and it’s turned something that people would do recreationally into something dangerous.”

The Overdose Prevention Society operates a pop-up harm reduction and overdose prevention trailer and tent in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. The facility is staffed by CPR-trained volunteers equipped with Naloxone, a drug used to reverse overdoses, and other medical equipment. The organisation also advocates for more safe injection sites across the Lower Mainland, and pushes for a better government response to the overdose crisis.

“[The Overdose Prevention Society is] on the front lines. They’re on the streets. They’re making sure that people are safe, and if they do overdose they have the knowledge and the items to prevent these needless deaths,” says Lopes.

Lopes says that the fundraiser was the product of “a lot of sleepless nights,” because it was the first such event held by the KSA in years, and the first ever that Lopes has been personally involved in. She says that the KSA is looking forward to hosting future pub nights for other worthy causes, with the next one tentatively planned for February.