The Opioid Crisis in Maskwacis: A Closer Look at a Small Alberta Community

An Examination of the Opioid Crisis In A Small Alberta Community

When discussions about the opioid crisis take place, many tend to think about large cities typically associated with drug epidemics. However, it’s crucial to understand that large cities aren’t the only places being affected. The opioid crisis is also taking its toll on smaller, often Indigenous communities across Canada, and their experiences and struggles often go underrepresented in mainstream media. A recent report from CBC shines a light on such a community: Maskwacis in Alberta.

The Opioid Crisis Curveballs In Maskwacis

Maskwacis, a small community south of Edmonton in Alberta, is feeling the wrath of the opioid crisis. The community has witnessed a significant rise in toxic drug-related deaths, especially over the last couple of years. Highly potent and deadly drugs like methamphetamine and opioids are infiltrating the community, causing havoc.

Key Areas of Concern:

Several critical areas in Maskwacis’s opioid crisis require urgent attention:

  • Surge in Drug-related Deaths: In 2021 alone, the community witnessed a staggering number of 22 overdose deaths, which is a significant increase from previous years. This statistic emphasizes the escalating severity of the crisis.
  • Lack of Timely Medical Help: The geography of the region presents a significant challenge, with the nearest hospital about half an hour away in Wetaskiwin. This distance often results in critical delays in medical help for overdose victims.
  • Impact on Kids and Families: The crisis doesn’t just affect those who use the drugs. The negative impacts trickle down to families as well, especially children, who are often left homeless and put into foster care because of their parents’ addictions.
  • Insufficient Community Resources: Despite the efforts of the Maskwacis Mobile Mental Health Team, which provides services like naloxone training, the community lacks sufficient resources to effectively combat the growing crisis.

Facing the Opioid Class Action Suit

Maskwacis is part of a growing number of communities across Canada that have joined the $50 billion opioid class action suit against pharmaceutical companies. The hope is to garner funds that can be directed toward resources required to address the crisis, including housing facilities, mental health services, detox centers, and increased access to life-saving treatments, such as naloxone.

Unified in Crisis

Despite the grim circumstances, the Maskwacis community demonstrates a commendable spirit of resilience, unity, and shared responsibility. The community is small, and everyone knows someone affected by this crisis, making it a collective struggle. This unity is seen in their combined effort to provide harm reduction services and support each other through the difficult times.


More than anything else, the opioid crisis in Maskwacis underscores the urgency with which we need to address this issue in communities large and small, urban and rural, wealthy and impoverished. Masks of grief and desperation have shrouded this vibrant indigenous community. However, they remain hopeful.

At the core, the opioid crisis is symptomatic of broader systemic issues, including poverty, reduced social support systems, and a lack of health care resources. Therefore, any attempt to address the problem must take into account these root causes. Also, the struggle and resilience of the community in Maskwacis serve as a potent reminder that although it is an uphill battle, it is one that we must collectively commit to if we hope to overcome the opioid crisis.

While measures like joining the opioid class-action suit can provide some relief and assistance, the key takeaway is the need for a systemic and sustained response to adequately address the situation. This will require collective efforts stretching from the Federal Government to the local communities, all working in unison to overcome this tragic epidemic.

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