Name of Town: Surrey,
Focus is on engagement with South Asian communities through culturally specific resources
A Q&A with Courtney Kelly, Garry Sandhu, Erin Gibson, and Mark Griffioen of the Surrey CAT (Overdose Response Community Action Team), with contributions from Vicky Waldron, Lawrence Yang, and Shannon Formo.
“The discussions are always full of passion and compassion. This is a group that, at the core, actualizes the ethos of love for community,” – Dr. Lawrence Yang, family physician
Members of the Community Action Initiative team sat down with Sukh Shergill, Surrey CAT Coordinator; Garry Sandhu, Peer Coordinator; Erin Gibson, Manager, Clinical Operations, Harm Reduction and Overdose Response, Fraser Health; Courtney Kelly, Harm Reduction Coordinator, Raincity Housing; and Mark Griffioen, Deputy Fire Chief, Community Risk Reduction, Surrey Fire Services to discuss the learnings, and proud moments experienced while working with the Surrey CAT. We also heard from Vicky Waldron, Executive Director, Construction Industry Rehabilitation Plan; Lawrence Yang, Family Physician, Surrey North Delta Division of Family Practice; and Shannon Formo, Fraser Region Aboriginal Friendship Centre Association. Here’s what they had to say.
Bringing Naloxone in to one of the temples in Surrey was a huge success. Bringing these kits into a holy place of worship – where a lot of people cautioned us, reminding us about the need to be careful so that it was not one more thing that South Asian people were negatively singled out for – with such grace. It was amazing to be part of that.
When I first joined, I just showed up and listened. Over time, I got a feel for the group and I learned that when it came to my bias, I was putting that on the people sitting at the table, and that all these people were here with good intentions and were there to learn. Once I felt comfortable voicing my ideas and concerns, I appreciated that peers’ voices were listened to and considered.
The CAT team has taken a progressive approach by taking ideas and putting them into action. Members of the Surrey CAT have addressed some of the local barriers in Surrey by providing a true representation at the CAT table to ensure that all Surrey community partners and voices are heard. In creating and producing materials in different languages – such as Punjabi written materials and community outreach projects – we have connected with people in the community who would normally suffer in silence.
This is one of the rare places where I can engage with persons with lived and living experience, as well as parents, first responders, and other community leaders all at the same time. The discussions are always full of passion and compassion. This is a group that, at the core, actualizes the ethos of love for community.