Surrey MLA questions drug awareness program of BC schools amidst safe drug-snorting kits controversy


BC United MLA Elenore Sturko is asking authorities to review and offer clarification on province’s current drug awareness and addiction curriculum in BC.
Sturko claims in a letter that over the last few weeks she was alerted by parents to “multiple incidents involving distribution of inappropriate materials in BC schools including drug use paraphernalia.”
Sturko’s letter comes after a high school in Cowichan Valley courted controversy when media reported that students were provided with safe snorting kits after a drug awareness program in school.
Cowichan Valley School District acknowledged that materials the District does not consider “school or age appropriate” were left at one of the school sites. The School District said that they were from a third-party harm reduction and drug addiction presentation.
“While the District does support harm reduction as a well-researched and effective method of addressing the ongoing opioid crisis and conversations around drugs and drug addiction, we aim to ensure that the teachings related to it are appropriate for our students,” the School District said in a statement.
The District apologised for the incident and informed that a full investigation will be underway. “Materials left by this third party did not meet this threshold, and for that we apologize to our community. As a result of this incident, we are undertaking a full investigation as well as a review of applicable policies and APs regarding third-party presentations and materials.”
Sturko, in a letter addressed to BC’s ministers of education, health and addiction, has pointed that there have been several incidents where inappropriate materials were distributed during drug awareness and prevention program.
She said that multiple parents have come forward to express their concerns over the distribution of “safe snorting kits” consisting of glass pipes, straws, and tin foil, being distributed to their children in schools in Cowichan and Maple Ridge.
Additionally, she has also received a separate complaint “after school students were given posters promoting magic mushrooms and Cocaine.”
She shared the pictures of posters and snorting kits along with the letter.

While talking to the Link paper, she said as a critic she is asking government to offer clarification on what’s being taught under drug awareness and addiction prevention curriculum of BC.

She said that a lot of parents are unaware about drug awareness and addiction prevention programs. She is of the view that along with harm reduction, it is important to talk more about drug prevention. “In the phase of such devastating drug addiction crisis, parents want to make sure that there are prevention programs along with harm reduction education. It elevates parents concerns when they see these snorting kits. In one such case actual glass pipe was given out.”
On behalf of concerned families, she is asking government for clarification on the current drug addiction awareness program. “We need more clarification on how third-party presenters, and any materials provided to students are vetted to ensure they meet age-appropriate guidelines and fit within the current curriculum.”
According to her it is important to have a consistent plan with pre approved materials.
Education Minister Rachna Singh has written an op-ed on the drug snorting kits controversy. While explaining province’s policy she said, “The Province has always discouraged youth from using any substance and continues to do so. B.C.’s Physical and Health Education (PHE) curriculum covers substance use prevention and harm reduction, in which the risks are explained to students. School districts, schools and educators are responsible for resources used in classrooms and ensuring they meet B.C.’s curriculum and safety standards.”
It is expected that facilitators and resources used by school districts are aligned with the learning standards of B.C.’s curriculum and, importantly, that the resources and learning are age appropriate. We remain committed to supporting school districts in preventing substance use, and providing interventions and the education necessary so students know the risks of using substances,” Singh added.