The Indigenous Community Grappling with the Opioid Crisis: Insights from Maskwacis, Alberta

The Indigenous Community Grappling with the Opioid Crisis: Insights from Maskwacis, Alberta

The rise in opioid-related deaths in Canada is a public health issue that authorities and communities are currently dealing with. Recent report from CBC News sheds light on how the opioid crisis is wreaking havoc in the Indigenous community of Maskwacis, Alberta.

An Uptick in Toxic Drug Deaths

From January to August 2021 alone, 2,060 Albertans died from toxic drug overdoses, a spike of 69 percent from the same duration in the preceding year. The troubling aspect is that Maskwacis, a community composed of four First Nations bands with a population of roughly 17,000, has reported at least 83 deaths since the start of 2020.

Alarming Statistics

The data reported from Maskwacis is indeed alarming. The numbers show this community is significantly afflicted with the opioid crisis compared to other regions in Canada.

The key points from the CBC article include:

– Maskwacis witnessed 83 deaths from toxic drug overdoses since 2020.
– Community leaders suggest the actual numbers are likely higher due to under-reporting.
– Six individuals in the community died from toxic drug overdose within just a week in November 2021.
– The primary cause of these deaths is opioid drugs, particularly fentanyl, a highly potent synthetic opioid.

Opioid Crisis Triggers Class Action

The opioid crisis consequences are so severe that the community has launched an opioid class action against pharmaceutical companies. The claim asserts that the companies were negligent and misleading about the drugs’ addictive nature, which exacerbated this crisis.

Programs to Combat the Crisis

Despite the grim situation, efforts to mitigate the crisis are in place. Maskwacis declared a state of emergency back in 2020 and has since then implemented several programs.

The community now has a mobile treatment unit that visits residents, providing much-needed support, respect, and treatment options. Moreover, there has been a push in providing naloxone training and kits to residents. Naloxone is a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose if administered timely, thus potentially saving lives.

Also, a safe withdrawal management site is in the plans, aiming to provide a safe environment for people willing to quit drugs.

The Interplay of Homelessness and Crime

The opioid crisis does not operate in isolation. It’s closely linked with issues of homelessness and crime, which makes addressing it a complex task.

The issues of homelessness and drug addiction are deeply intertwined. Without stable housing, individuals struggling with addiction often find it difficult to access treatment or maintain their recovery. As a result, addiction can often lead to or perpetuate homelessness.

Similarly, the opioid crisis has been linked to a rise in crime rates, with individuals sometimes resorting to illegal activities to support their addiction.


In summary, the opioid crisis has significantly impacted Canadian society, with communities like Maskwacis shouldering a disproportionate share of the burden. Addressing this problem is no small task and requires a multifaceted approach.

From addressing systemic issues like homelessness and crime to holding pharmaceutical companies accountable, these strategies are crucial to mitigating this crisis. Furthermore, the provision of essential life-saving drugs, such as naloxone, and the significant emphasis on community-focused measures like mobile treatment units and withdrawal management sites, are hopeful steps forward.

The experience of Maskwacis serves as a reminder that there are real communities behind the statistics of the opioid crisis. Amidst the grim numbers, their resilience and determination to implement solutions are inspiring glimmers of hope. As we navigate the opioid crisis, let stories like these serve as markers of both the struggles faced and the dedicated efforts to overcome them.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top