Gathering Hope 2023

By Noah Chalifoux

Over the past year, Local Leadership United (LLU) has engaged over 50 local governments in conversations about the Unregulated Drug Poisoning Crisis, harm reduction and community health. Hosted through partnership between CAI and the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), this provincial project is working to build on local capacity, relationships, networks, and a commitment to change with respect to community overdose response. Since April 2022, LLU has hosted 24 in-person dialogues, across all five regional health authorities

On June 22nd and 23rd, 2023, CAI brought together LLU members engaged at dialogue events across BC. This provincial convening, called, Gathering Hope: Positive Impacts in Community Overdose Response, sought to collect stories of communities creating positive impact, amidst an incredibly challenging reality. With 29 local governments represented, there were just over 80 LLU members from across BC present, including 26 local government elected officials, 11 city staff, 13 health authority partners, and 16 community partners, CAT Coordinators and PWLLE. Keynote speakers included: BC’s Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry; TEDx speaker and CEO of Len Pierre Consulting, Len Pierre; and the Provincial Health Officer who declared BC’s drug poisoning crisis 7 years ago, Dr. Perry Kendall. Attendees heard from local government elected officials, city staff, bylaw teams, Community Action Teams (CATs), people with lived and living experience (PWLLE) and health authority staff who are applying a harm reduction approach and leading the way to healthier communities for all British Columbians.

The LLU team is deeply grateful for all those who attended, listened, engaged and learned. Beyond that, we thank all those who we have engaged at our events and in conversations over the past year and a half. We cannot do this work alone, and this event would not have been possible without your generous contributions in time, dialogue and heart.  

In times of crisis and loss, we need hope more than ever. The stories we have heard across the province and in June give us hope. We look forward to sharing these stories through further dialogue and writing over the next year of this project.

Graphic Recording of Gathering Hope: Positive Impacts in Community Overdose Response, produced by Lise Gilies. Click image to view in full size: