Surrey gurdwara raises alarm after spike in international student overdose deaths


By Asia Samachar | Canada |

The number of overdose deaths among South Asian international students in Surrey, British Columbia, is already a cause for alarm. For the part fortnight, a local gurdwara official has learned of four overdose deaths in the community, all current or former international students.

A Surrey gurdwara official told a local news agency that incidents of overdose deaths is only getting worse.

In the past two years, the gurdwara has helped the families of 16 men who died of overdose — all under the age of 30, international students or in Canada on a work permit, Gurdwara Dakh Nivaran Sahib committee president Narinder Singh Walia told CNC News.

Walia said the gurdwara gets involved when families of the deceased reach out asking for help in arranging a cremation, funeral or sending a body back to India.

A 2019 study found in the Fraser Health region, which includes Surrey — about 35 kilometres southeast of Vancouver — those dying of toxic drugs were disproportionately young, male and South Asian. The authors used a name-based algorithm to identify who was South Asian. The B.C. Coroners Service does not track ethnicity in overdose deaths, according to the report.

Khalsa Aid Canada director for Metro Vancouver Baljit Kaur Lally told the same news agency that better data could spark a badly needed wake-up call in the South Asian community where there is a great amount of stigma around drug use.

Lally told the agency that said in South Asian culture, males are put on a pedestal and receive special treatment when they’re young. However, as soon as they turn 18, they face immense pressure to provide for their family.


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