Name of Town: South Surrey and White Rock,
Creating cross-sectoral toolkits, curriculum and multimedia resources
A Q&A with George Passmore, Ryan Nielsen, and Matthew Huot of the South Surrey and White Rock CAT.
“It can take a while to build the momentum and the spirit of a team, and the momentum for action. For it to really have impact, and the ripple effect that really makes a difference in the whole community – it’s a multi-year project,” – George Passmore, CAT Co-Chair and Program Manger of Substance Use Services at Sources Community Resources
Members of the Community Action Initiative team sat down with George Passmore, CAT Co-chair, Ryan Nielsen, CAT member and Matthew Huot, CAT Co-chair to discuss community collaboration and evolution of the South Surrey and White Rock CAT. Here’s what he had to say.
We also have family member involvement – which supports our focus on reaching men in trades. We also have the South Rock Mealtime Talks (SRMT), and the Compassion Cafes in schools.
- SMRT is a series of dialogue events bringing PWLLE and families together in the spirit of deep listening to explore perspectives, beliefs, experiences, and values regarding substance use and related harms. This is done with groups such as Substance Use and Mental Health Service providers, physicians and pharmacists, first responders, as well as family members as a powerful way to bring connection and enhance compassion. In one of our dialogue sessions, a family member who lost her stepson to overdose said she wished she had known about Opioid Agonist Therapy (OAT) when her stepson was seeking help. This story prompted our local recovery home to seek training from the Addiction Physician in attendance at the dialogue and they have now admitted their first ever resident on OAT. Compassion Café brought high school students together to explore how they can address stigma and increase compassion and connection in their school cultures.
We've been mindful of the importance of including people with lived and living experience of substance use in all aspects of the CAT, especially the working groups. For example, our youth-led Compassion Café program is at Elgin Park Secondary, wherein youth have conversations with parents, other caregivers, and school staff around substance use and mental health. It’s on hold now but a Youth Advisory Group developed a curriculum, created promotional materials, and planned events based on the Development Framework of Relationships from the Search Institute.
When we did the International Overdose Awareness Day event, we found that since the start of the overdose crisis in 2016, 50 people in South Surrey and White Rock had lost their lives. We built 50 crosses in front of City Hall to honour those lives lost. The Mayor of White Rock, Darryl Walker, Semiahmoo First Nation and the City supported the event and people came by to write names of their family members on some of the crosses. The image of these 50 crosses put everything into perspective. Having people coming by to talk to us and to share their own struggles with substance use really laid bare the impact this has and how willing our community is to come together.
I also think it's great that the Mayor of White Rock is a part of the CAT. As a result of the city's involvement, we were awarded a grant to fund the production of a video for men in the trades. They supported several of our community events and hosted a flag-raising ceremony. The city supported drummers from Kwantlen First Nation to participate in an event and really brought it to much greater community awareness, with much more of a ripple effect in our community than we ever could have had on our own.
Take the time to create a culture of safety and inclusion. Truly value all voices equally and ensure that there are maximum opportunities for participation. It can take a while to build the momentum and the spirit of a team, and the momentum for action. For it to really have impact, and the ripple effect that really makes a difference in the whole community – it’s a multi-year project.
Find that group of people who are really committed to the cause – who will be there and support one another and will continue to work through any hurdles that come your way. This is key.
Overdose awareness on wheels – motorcade winds through White Rock
Surrey Now Leader