Langley Community Action Team

One voice, together

Formed in:  2016
Number of members:  30
Communities served:  

Name of Town: Langley,  Langley Township,  

Unique features:

Focus on community anti-stigma education with local business leaders while upholding a strong peer team.

A Q&A with Daniel Snyder, Amanda Laboucane, and Dana Dementro of the Langley CAT.

“We are always asking: ‘How do we honour and value lived and living experience and how do we create a safe space for all?’” - Amanda Laboucane, Manager for Langley Health Services

Members of the Community Action Initiative team sat down with Daniel Snyder, CAT Coordinator; Amanda Laboucane, Manager for Langley Health Services, Fraser Health; and Dana Dmytro, District School Psychologist, to discuss the learnings, evolutions and proud moments experienced while working with the Langley CAT. Here’s what they had to say.

CAI: So, how did the Langley CAT initially form?
Amanda Laboucane (AL): It’s been a beautiful evolution. Before we were officially called a CAT, we started as a big committee and organized four working groups that were set up to address what we wanted to target: harm reduction, prevention through education, community engagement and stigma reduction and community resiliency. We transformed from an Overdose Response Committee, to being a community action table and then we were able to launch the R.O.L.E. project which has been instrumental in our community.
CAI: Can you talk a little but more about the R.O.L.E. project?
Daniel Snyder (DS): R.O.L.E. is the storytelling component of what the CAT has been able to offer. Often, we're stuck on data and policies and not really hearing the human impact side of this crisis. We All Play a R.O.L.E. – Responding to Overdose in Langley through Education – is one of the projects I’ve been able to be a part of, and the premise is that, like the name implies, we all play a role. Whether we know someone or not, it affects the whole community. The main goal is to reduce stigma. This project has enabled us to go into the community and talk to people who think the overdose crisis is not their issue or who only think of it as affecting homeless people, and don’t consider that their friends and coworkers may also be at risk. In 2019, we did about 35 presentations mostly to local businesses. We also did presentations to the general community, with 30 to 50 people attending. We developed a toolkit that reviews the statistics in Langley, education on the toxicity of the drug supply and how it’s changed over the years, the role each person plays in terms of addressing their attitudes, and more.
CAI: How are people with lived and living experience with substance use (PWLLE) involved in your CAT?
DS: Langley has a great peer team and it was through the CAT team that I realized that my story has value to others and my voice as a peer was not only acknowledged but sought out. Joining the CAT was really a transformation point for me in terms of embracing my past and being free to be vulnerable and share that story. When I came into the CAT, there was already a core group of peers essential to the CAT since the beginning. I think one of the reasons that the CAT was so successful at drawing in peers is because of the location of meetings that made it accessible. We met at the Gateway of Hope Langley, which is a shelter offering a transition program. Also, a lot of our peers are involved in the Rig Riders project. This team bikes or walks around rallying other peers to take care of their community through supporting one another. The project also provides needle recovery, harm reduction supplies, and facilitates collection and disposal of discarded needles.
Dana Dementro: As someone with experience of losing loved ones from overdose, I originally got involved in the CAT through a call-out from Moms Stop the Harm. I started speaking at events, sharing my experiences and advocating that the crisis affects us all. I started representing the CAT on behalf of the district, transitioning to being able to wear both hats as someone who can speak out professionally and someone affected by the crisis. I felt isolated from a lot of my colleagues dealing with this silently, so being able to speak out professionally has been really healing.
CAI: Can you provide an example of a time when have you felt proud to be a part of the CAT?
DS: When people talk to me about how their perception towards drug policy has changed, I feel proud and I feel like we’re making movements. In one instance, I was running Naloxone training and one woman, who was 8 months pregnant, did not want to take a Naloxone kit home. She said she’d never use it. She emailed us a few days later, explaining that she walked into a clinic to get an ultrasound and someone ran in calling for help – someone was overdosing outside. She had her kit still in her purse, ran out and was able to save a life. That’s what I’ve seen with this CAT, that we can take the overdose crisis to the community at large. We had to come up with tactful ways to talk about this because we’re changing people's paradigms. A lot of people come into these things thinking that alcohol is okay but other drugs are bad. It’s not exclusively about drugs per se or the harms associated with them as much as it is our attitudes, and the way people understand one another.
    Our goal is to stand united and when we come together as a voice, I feel so proud. We’re constantly working towards creating an environment where peers feel safe. We are always asking: “How do we honour and value lived and living experience and how do we create a safe space for all?” If we can be together as a committee, talk about these things, and voice what our needs are, and peers feel safe in that process – that's progress.


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