A grieving mother runs a marathon a day around the BC ministry building to raise awareness of the drug crisis

For the past month, Jessica Michalofsky has run a marathon almost every day of the week, circling around the Department of Health building in Victoria from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

With a group of up to 20 people supporting her on some days – including substitute runners who recently helped her cover the daily distance due to her tendonitis – Michalofsky has covered a total of around 800 kilometers since the 3 October as she runs to raise awareness of the toxic drug crisis in British Columbia.

She aims to keep running every day of the week to pressure the government into taking more action on the crisis – including providing a safe and more accessible supply – after losing her son Aubrey, 25, because of toxic drugs a few months ago.

« In a way, I’m doing this for exposure, I’m doing this for publicity, and I’m doing this to shame the government and to put pressure on them, as well as to raise awareness, » she said. .

Michalofsky’s son is one of almost 1,500 British Columbians died following the crisis between January and August 2022. More than 10,000 people in the province have lost their lives since the public health emergency was first declared in April 2016.

Aubrey had just completed a law and justice degree from Selkirk College in Castlegar, British Columbia, she said.

Aubrey Michalofsky was 25 when he died of an overdose on August 30. (Submitted by Jessica Michalofsky)

Worried about his health as he struggled with drugs, Michalofsky had moved Aubrey from Victoria to Winlaw in the West Kootenay, where they had extended family.

« I got so worried about having him here in Victoria, » she said, adding that she wanted to move Aubrey to a new community where he could start getting the help he needed.

Aubrey had been on a methadone recovery program for two years, she said. But living in Winlaw, he had to travel more than 50 kilometers a day to receive his dose of methadone under supervision.

Michalofsky says his son’s death was preventable.

« I saw my son trying really hard. I really tried to help him, but there was just a lack of resources, a lack of access to resources, » she said.

« It’s not a low-barrier therapy. »

The coroner, investigating Aubrey’s death, found fentanyl in her system.

« Obviously he didn’t know the power…he certainly had no intention of dying. I was supposed to meet him later that day, so anything he did was completely unintentional, » Michalofsky said.

Safe supply inaccessible

Michalofsky said most of the province’s mandated safe supply programs are based in urban centers, making them inaccessible to those living in more rural areas.

On Thursday, she says she met with Mental Health and Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson and Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry.

« They recognized they weren’t doing enough. I think that’s a fair way to sum up what they said, » said Michalofsky, who also advocates for more treatment centers, better education and more resources for parents.

In a statement to CBC, Malcolmson said stories like Aubrey’s « motivate and inform our continued work to save lives from the poisoned drug supply. »

« Over the past year, health authorities have expanded mandated safer supply programs across the province, an approach unique in Canada. »

The mayor and the leader of the Greens will speak at a rally

In a bid to raise even more awareness, Michalofsky was to hold a rally in Victoria on Friday.

Speakers for the event, which was scheduled to take place at 11 a.m. PT at the corner of Pandora and Blanchard streets, were to include Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto and BC Greens Leader Sonia Furstenau.

Michalofsky says she will continue her protest outside the ministry’s office until the government takes meaningful action in how it addresses safe supply. (Radio-Canada News)

Michalofsky hopes she can prevent what happened to her for other families.

« He was my only son, and my world will never be the same…if I can help other people not lose their loved ones, I feel like Aubrey would want that and that’s his legacy of helping others, » she said. .


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