Name of Town: Maple Ridge,
Celebrate and empower voices through multimedia approaches and collaboration
A Q&A with Leslie Billinton, Kim Dumore, Shayna Guichon of the Maple Ridge CAT.
“It’s such an amazing experience, seeing how much people care. Watching people help others who are struggling. It’s neat to see how different agencies work together to build a stronger community,” – Shayna Guichon, Peer Worker
Members of the Community Action Initiative sat down with Leslie Billinton, CAT Co-Chair, Kim Dumore, CAT Project Coordinator; and Shayna Guichon, Peer Worker to discuss the learnings, evolution and artwork coming out of the Maple Ridge CAT.
The group’s primary goal is to work together to develop a community-based response to the opioid overdose crisis, identify challenges, and address gaps as they arise, and increase community-wide compassion, engagement, and inclusion. At our community planning table, we are proactive and action oriented. We actively engage peers and those with lived experience. We believe all people are equal and that each of us brings value to the conversation. We understand that stories, best practices, and research are the best tools to communicate our shared message when working on complex community issues, and we recognize that stigma and shaming create barriers to accessing services. We’re passionate about building a stronger, more resilient community for all. These values and beliefs guide our work, our interactions, and help us frame our approach.
As a peer, I work our pop-up events, where we hand out lunches and harm reduction supplies at the social assistance office, as well as during walkabouts in the community. We give people information and direct them to who they need to see for certain services. We also host community dinners.
Peers in our community identified that people were having a hard time finding harm reduction supplies and having difficulty with food security due to COVID. That led to us looking at how we could get food and harm reduction resources into the community. Regular meal programming to support those in need shut down due to COVID, and through our CAT, we provide meals – community dinners – five days a week.
The zine will be an opportunity for community members to share stories about their strength and resilience, their art, or their experiences with stigma and its impact. What has their journey been? We’re hoping to build on this, and we’ve reached out to FRIS, and community agencies that work with youth. In the end, we’re hoping to have something that will show the support, resilience, strength, and resources that are in our community – to decrease stigma and increase compassion and awareness.
Regional CAT meetings have always been interesting to me. Hearing the different work that each of the CATs has done is eye-opening. It’s cool to hear how many people are trying to make a difference in their communities, especially for those people who are misunderstood and stigmatized. That’s why I am so excited for the zine, which ties together everything that we’ve learned, and presents it back into the community.
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