Nelson Fentanyl Task Force funds $15k toward providing new prescription options

This article was originally posted in the Nelson Star: Oct 21, 2020

The money supports an outreach worker who helps people access pharmaceutical opioids and stimulants.

The Nelson Fentanyl Task Force (NFTF) has directed $15,000 in funding to help improve access to new provincial pandemic prescribing options for people who use substances, also referred to as safe supply. The NFTF is a collaborative group formed in 2016 in response to the overdose crisis, and is comprised of healthcare workers, emergency responders, and many other stakeholders across the community.

The funds will go towards supporting an outreach worker on a team in Nelson. The team supports people to access pharmaceutical opioids and stimulants to mitigate the deadly effects of the overdose crisis. The ANKORS outreach worker, funded by NFTF and ANKORS, works with outreach staff from several other local organizations, including Nelson CARES, Interior Health and Nelson Community Services.

The BC Coroner’s report shows that more people are dying due to overdose in British Columbia than ever before. In the first eight months of 2020, 1,068 people have died due to overdose in B.C., which is more than in all of 2019. Overdose prevention sites, wider use of naloxone, opioid agonist therapy (OAT), and drug checking responses in B.C. were contributing to reduced death rates prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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ANKORS Art Slam 2020

ANKORS is hosting a 72-hour virtual art slam to raise awareness and funds to support people living with HIV/AIDS in the Kootenay/Boundary region. The art slam will run from September 8th-10th and will raise funds for the ANKORS Foundation Fund. This fund aims to support the specific needs of people living with HIV/AIDS in the Kootenay/Boundary region, such as providing nutritional enhancement or supporting access to medical care.

Many local artists will be participating in the art slam, which is open to any and all sorts of artistic creators – from poets, to muralists, chefs, painters, photographers, musicians, sculptors, actors, dancers, videographers and more! Participating artists will be given a prompt and will then have 72 hours to create their piece of art. Photos and videos of the virtual art slam will be shared online through ANKORS’ social media and on the Facebook event page.

At the end of the slam, community members will vote for their favourite piece of art and the winner will be awarded with a prize! An online auction will run for two weeks following the art slam (from September 11 th to September 24 th ), in which community members will have the opportunity to bid for the artwork that was created during the slam. Part of the proceeds from this auction will go towards the participating artists, and the other part will be donated to the ANKORS Foundation Fund to support people living with HIV/AIDS. More information about how to check out the artwork and bid in the online auction will be available on the event page here.

On Wednesday September 16th at 7:30PM, ANKORS will partner with the Royal in Nelson to host a documentary screening of “How to Survive a Plague”. This film tells the story of the early AIDS epidemic and the activists who pushed for action to combat it. At this event, ANKORS will also share video footage and highlights from the art slam. Tickets for the screening will be available through The Royal’s website – please stay tuned for more
information about booking a table to attend. ANKORS and the Royal are working together to ensure that COVID-19 protocols will be in place and respected for this in-person event. We look forward to seeing you there!

ANKORS acknowledges that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many local artists may be struggling at this time. This is an opportunity to come together as a community in celebration of the arts. In the context of this global pandemic, it is crucial to recognize the importance of continuing efforts to confront longstanding epidemics, such as that of HIV/AIDS.

For more information about the art slam, silent auction, or documentary screening email Amelia at or call 250-505-5506. You can also check out our Facebook event for more details.

ANKORS Statement in Support of Black Lives Matter

As a social justice and harm reduction organization, ANKORS stands in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and all marginalized communities of colour. We must work to resist the many forms of systemic and structural violence present in our communities, including: police brutality, racism, white supremacy, and ongoing settler-colonialism. We stand in solidarity with this important struggle for humanity and justice and we commit as an organization, as well as in our personal lives, to actually take action to change the systems that perpetuate violence against members of our community. 

In Canada, Black and Indigenous people are more likely to be victims of crime. In Toronto, where Black people are 4% of the population, they account for as many as 40% of murder victims. Meanwhile, despite statistics showing that Black people are not more likely to be involved in crime, young Black men are around twice as likely to be stopped and searched by police than white young men. These are obvious examples of injustice.

As a harm reduction organization we believe in the decriminalization of all drugs. The war on drugs targets Black and Indigenous people and other racialized minorities in huge disproportion. To us, the connection is quite clear. Decriminalizing drugs fights racism, stigma, and prejudice. Black people are overrepresented in Canada’s federal prisons by 300%, and Indigenous people by 500%. Many of these people are imprisoned for drug possession, or other ways we criminalize poverty in our society.

The first step is recognizing that racism is in our communities and in ourselves; racism does not only live south of the border or in large cities. As an organization that strives for inclusion we commit to taking action to reflect on how we can do better to do more than just be inclusive but to be actively anti-racist. We know that ending racism is tied in to many other battles: providing housing, food security, better public health, ending homophobia and transphobia, supporting restorative justice systems, and creating a school system that teaches our children the true history of Canada.

Read more at the John Howard Society blog, Black Lives Matter Vancouver, and Pacific AIDS Network‘s statement.


It’s AGM time again!

ANKORS will host its annual general meeting on Thursday, August 18th, 2016. It will be held in the Fairview Room in the Nelson United church, at 602 Silica Street, Nelson, BC.

Doors open at 12:30pm for the Meet and Greet, and the AGM runs from 1-3pm. Snacks and refreshments available.

People who are interested in joining our Board please contact ANKORS in advance at (250) 505-5506 or email us at

Fentanyl: A horse of a different colour

by Alex Sherstobitoff

What is Fentanyl?  Where is it coming from?  Why are people dying from it?   Why are people taking it?  Why can’t people just stop taking it?  What can we do?  We do know that Media have identified Fentanyl deaths and suspected Fentanyl deaths throughout BC, Alberta and across Canada.  The recent BC coroner’s report for 2015 states that there were 465 apparent illicit drug overdose deaths in 2015, a 27% increase in deaths from 2014 (366 deaths).  We saw 62 deaths in a period of one month in December 2015.  While the majority of illicit drug overdose deaths do not involve Fentanyl, preliminary data suggests that the proportion of illicit drug overdose deaths for which Fentanyl was detected (alone or in combination with other drugs) increased to approximately 30% in 2015.

In previous years, the proportion was:

  •  2012 = 5%
  •  2013 = 15%
  •  2014 = 25%

At this point it seems Fentanyl is bringing up more questions than answers.

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Barriers to Healthcare for Inhalation and Injection Drug Users

May 26, 2010
by Tara Thom Burnett

The ANKORS needle exchange program has been operating in several communities within the Kootenay Boundary since 1998. During this time period, ANKORS has collected a surplus of anecdotal information pertaining to the challenges and barriers for clients accessing health care and social services.  This information indicates that persons who use intravenous or inhalation drugs and are also living with HCV or HIV experience many difficulties when attempting to access health care services.

Most research evaluating barriers to health care has been conducted in larger centres.  Reporting of data from smaller communities is nearly non-existent.  Nevertheless, this literary review aims to examine the current research with the purpose of outlining the main issues and barriers to accessing health care for inhalation or injection drug users with HCV and/or HIV.

The literature suggests that the reluctance of physicians to treat HCV or HIV while their patients are actively using illicit drugs contributes greatly to the inaccessibility of health care services.  For example, many intravenous drug users (IDUs) with HCV are “deemed ineligible for treatment” because of ongoing substance abuse (Grebely, Genoway, Raffa & Dhadwal, 2008a, p. 28).  In a 2007 Vancouver study that examined barriers to the treatment of HCV among illicit drug users it was found that “factors associated with decreased uptake of treatment for HCV infection included current heroin use and HIV/HCV co-infection”.  Specifically, “concerns about patient motivation and adherence, medical and psychiatric co-morbidity, re-infection due to recurrent risk behaviours and the lack of infrastructure to ensure long-term access to care have all been raised as obstacles to the implementation of systematic HCV treatment programs in patients with a history of recreational drug use” (Grebely et al., 2008a, p. 26).

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