Name of Town: TriCities, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Anmore, Belcarra,
Youth Action Team and social media strategy focused on those using alone
A Q & A with Jenn Conway-Brown, Lilian Kan, Sandra J. Horton, and James Musgrave of the Tri-Cities CAT.
“This isn’t a homelessness issue, this isn’t an addiction issue. It's that the opioids that are out there are tainted, and they are killing people. And they are killing all kinds of people,” – James Musgrave, TCCAT Co-chair, Director of Counselling Programs and Services, Share Family and Community Services
Members of the Community Action Initiative team sat down with members of the Tri-Cities CAT to discuss the evolution, innovative projects, and proud moments experienced. CAT members included James Musgrave, Co-chair, Director of Counselling Programs and Services, Share Family and Community Services; Lilian Kan, General Manager, Noura Homes; Jen Conway-Brown, Harm Reduction Coordinator, Raincity Housing; and Sandra Horton, Project Coordinator TCCAT, Business Transformation Facilitator, Horton Collaborations. Here's what they had to say.
In my job, working for a builder’s company the past 11 years, I engage with men ranging from ages 20 to 50-years-old. Until I learned about this CAT, I had no idea about the overdose crisis. It’s tough in on-the-job residential construction sites because it’s not an environment that is open to this kind of discussion, it’s just not talked about. Through my time on this CAT, I’ve been able to share knowledge and increase awareness with leadership, including the site manager and project managers, by sharing overdose information like how to access take home Naloxone kits.
The peers are essential to us and it’s important that peer voices are amplified. Looking forward, one of the Peer Coordinators wants to start a peer mentorship program to enhance leadership within their group. The purpose of the peer mentorship program is to build capacity for the peers to find employment, elevate professional skills, and help fellow PWLLE.
We’ve had a relatively successful transition to social media since COVID-19. We ran a campaign targeted at men who may be using alone, who we know are at high risk of overdose. The results show the campaign had a positive impact with individuals actually seeking out TCCAT Facebook site for resources. In three months we had 125,514 views online and 193 viewers had taken some form of action.
Focus on the task at hand. It’s easy to get caught up in the dialogue that this is a socio-economic, homelessness, drug addiction, and substance use problem and some of it is, but as the numbers continue to show since the beginning of the pandemic, it’s younger to middle-aged working men who the crisis is affecting. This isn’t a homelessness issue, this isn’t an addiction issue. It's that the opioids that are out there are tainted, and they are killing people. And they are killing all kinds of people.
Commit your time to communication and sustainable activities. In my experience, funding shifts the conversation from community collaboration to project focused. So one piece of advice is to not get wrapped up in the projects – focus on the overarching community lens.
Tri-Cities to get overdose crisis response plan