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Why you may see purple chairs popping up on International Overdose Awareness Day

Empty purple chairs represent those lost to the toxic drug supply
Overdose Awareness Manitoba is asking people across Canada and beyond to draw attention to those lost to the toxic drug supply by displaying an empty purple chair. Aug. 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day. (Overdose Awareness Manitoba/Twitter)

Wednesday (Aug. 31) marks the International Day of Overdose Awareness and this year advocates are asking people to draw attention to those lost to the toxic drug supply through the use of empty purple chairs.

Purple has long been used as the colour to represent lives lost to the growing global crisis. Now, the empty chairs will stand in those peoples’ places.

In 2021 in B.C., a record 2,264 people died as a result of the toxic supply and another 1,095 people have died in the first six months of 2022 alone.

In the last decade, toxic drugs have killed 11,670 people in B.C. More than 10,000 of those deaths have occurred since the province declared the toxic supply a public health emergency in 2016.

READ ALSO: B.C. sees record high 1,095 toxic drug deaths in first 6 months of 2022

In the lead up to Aug. 31, people across Canada and beyond have posted photos of their empty purple chairs to social media, commemorating someone they have lost personally or bringing awareness to the crisis generally.

Moms Stop the Harm suggests those who make a chair place it some place special, such as in their garden, or bring it to an International Overdose Awareness Day event. A list of events can be found at

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Black Press Media Staff

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