THE STORIES BEHIND THE STATISTICS.
In Canada in 2019, one person died from an overdose every two hours.
Weathered reached almost 9 million people at Yonge & Dundas Square and online between Aug 23rd - Sept 6th, 2020. Coinciding with Overdose Awareness Day
(Aug 31st), Weathered was a digital photography exhibition + fundraising campaign that raised over $10,000 for Street Health's life-saving Overdose Prevention Site.
We are more than just numbers.
Weathered challenged stigmatized conceptions surrounding addiction and overdose by sharing personal photographs, mementos, and stories of those who have lost their lives to an overdose, showcasing the real human impact of the overdose crisis.
Street Health serves a ‘hot spot’ overdose neighbourhood in Toronto + urgently needs community support to continue operation.
VIDEO CREATED BY JESSICA OKONSKI
In March 2019, the Ontario Government abruptly ended funding for Street Health's OPS, even as spikes in overdoses have been a regular occurrence due to the poisoned street drug supply. Fortunately, community donors have supported the continued operation of the OPS since this defunding.
Street Health continues to explore every option because the need has not stopped. In 2019/20 the OPS supported over 3,000 client visits and reversed over 50 overdoses. This site is a resource for the community with over 600 referrals to other healthcare services being made annually, a vital support to those who rely on this service.
Families that have lost loved ones to an overdose submitted photographs of their loved ones shoes, favourite items + mementos. Their heartfelt submissions, images + stories showcase the emotional toll that the overdose crisis has had on the thousands of families mourning a loss.
Jessica Okonski is a Toronto-based photographer, and the artistic lead and mentor for the Weathered campaign.
Before COVID-19, Weathered was a public photography exhibition at Nathan Phillips Square, set to showcase 36 photographs produced by Jessica Okonski. These photographs were going to be a collaboration between the artist and families who had lost loved ones to an overdose.
In spite of COVID-19 restrictions, Jessica Okonski took select photographs for Weathered, produced the PDF 'How-to Photography Guide' for participants, produced the campaign video, and provided mentorship support to participants.
Jessica Okonski is a Toronto-based photographer specializing in lifestyle, portraiture and conceptual imagery. Jessica’s work often revolves around feelings of isolation and associated mental health, where she often omits or hides the subjects face to draw the viewer deeper into the narrative.