REGINA -- Regina’s first overdose prevention site quietly opened its doors to the public last week, two and a half months after it was granted approval by the provincial government.

The site, which opened May 19, is operated by the Nēwo Yōtina Friendship Centre and is the first overdose prevention site in western Canada to be operated by an Indigenous organization, according to Michael Parker, the centre’s executive director.

Parker said the first few days have been quiet and staff haven’t responded to an overdose yet. He said three people used the site last week, but the organization is anticipating it could serve close to 10 clients each day.

Right now, the organization is in the trust-building phase, said Parker. Supervised drug use inside a community organization is a new service in the city. The friendship centre is working to assure people that it offers a safe space to use.

“This is different,” said Parker. “It’s very tentative for people to get comfortable with that idea. Normally, this is something that if anybody was seen doing, they would be immediately asked to leave, they’d be kicked out. People would call the cops.”

The organization said it has funding for the overdose prevention site in place until the end of September. Parker said the organization would need another $50,000 at the bare minimum to operate from September until the end of March 2022. 

The site will provide a safe, clean and supervised environment for people who are using drugs they previously acquired and will educate clients on how to keep themselves safe while using. The overdose prevention site will be open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at is located at 11 Avenue and Osler Street.