About the Webinar
Despite the province’s increased investment on overdose prevention and response, high rates of overdose deaths due to the criminalization of drugs continue to escalate. Key voices have often been missed in the rush to respond, and resources have been less accessible, equitable and appropriate for the very communities they intend to serve. With thousands of lives lost, the urgency of the crisis has driven leaders from these communities to take matters into their own hands. Despite having minimal external support and resources, they have developed innovative solutions to meet the needs of their communities by educating and empowering the individuals within them.
In this webinar, Eris Nyx from the Coalition of Peers Dismantling the Drug War and Upkar Singh Tatlay from Engaged Communities Canada Society present their successful community-led initiatives: the VAN CCAPO (Vancouver Community Coalition Against Prohibition and Overdose) Street Degree, the SALMON (South Asian Local Mobilization Outreach Network) Project, and the Overdose Intervention (ODi) App. Through presentations and an engaging panel discussion, these organizers discuss the importance of adaptive community-led responses to the overdose crisis, the challenges of working within the non-profit sector, and how systems can better support and sustain these efforts.
The Vancouver Community Coalition Against Prohibition and Overdose Street Degree began as a peer informed and peer driven education collaboration between Vancouver Coastal Health, Portland Hotel Society, SRO Collaborative’s Tenant Overdose Response Organizer Project, Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society, DUDES Club, and the Coalition of Peers Dismantling the Drug War, with the goal of furthering the work being done by peers in the domains of overdose prevention, safe supply, housing, food security, and outreach. The VAN CCAPO Street Degree has peers engage and take leadership in content development and thereby addresses inequality and recreates the hierarchy of expertise while incorporating the wealth of knowledge found in lived experience. This helps break down barriers, decrease discrimination, and empowers peers as pivotal members of our community. Peers have stepped up in both the design and ongoing feedback of this education process as well as in the facilitation of courses. This education series could not happen without the contribution of peers, their knowledge, and their skills.
The South Asian Local Mobilization Outreach Network (SALMON) Project was created in response to the overdose crisis in BC. BC’s Fraser region saw the highest number of overdose deaths in the province among which South Asians are overrepresented. Given that many resources are available only in English, this presents racialized community members with significant barriers to accessing critical information. SALMON aims to bridge this gap by providing lifesaving education, resources, and supplies in culturally-relevant formats using a harm reduction approach. This is done by peer-led outreach teams who visit local parks and places of worship and speak to individuals – bringing awareness to and reducing stigma around overdose in one of the most diverse communities in the world.
Central to their success has been the Overdose Intervention (ODi) App. ODi is a free multi-lingual tool supporting individuals to identify the symptoms of suspected overdose from the toxic drug supply, call 9-1-1 directly through the app’s built-in feature, provide emergency first aid, and administer naloxone. The ODi App empowers every community member to access linguistic and culturally relevant resources to offset the dangers of an overdose.