Name of Town: Vancouver,
A focus on micro-granting and advocating for strong Indigenous engagement, and striving for culturally safe practices.
A Q&A with Alycia Fridkin of the Vancouver CAT.
“It’s always important to ask ‘How we are integrating and centering Indigenous peoples into our general processes?’” – Alycia Fridkin, Urban Health Planner, City of Vancouver
Members of the Community Action Initiative team sat down with Alycia Fridkin, Urban Health Planner for the City of Vancouver, to discuss Indigenous collaboration, learnings, and evolution of the Vancouver CAT. Here’s what she had to say.
Our most recent example is pulling together CAT members and people with lived and living experience of substance use to advise the Mayor on ways to reduce stigma and embrace a more health-based approach to substance use. After the session, the Mayor passed the motion asking the Federal Government to decriminalize personal use of drugs in the City of Vancouver.
Building relationships is so important when working with Indigenous partners. I’ve seen so many times where Indigenous people aren’t included until the end, and this really interferes with the relationship. Really connecting with people, being open, and listening when people give critical feedback and adjusting to it is important. It’s so important to create culturally safe spaces – spaces that aren’t experienced as violent and dismissive. Cultural protocols such as listening to understand rather than to respond – creating action out of listening and responding to feedback with accountability – is practiced within the meeting.
The Youth Overdose Prevention group came together and identified the barriers that youth accessing overdose prevention services have. For example, they might be turned away at harm reduction sites by people saying: ‘You don’t want to be here. You don’t want to be like me.’ But then there’s no place for them to go. The youth facilities where they are allowed, they aren’t allowed to keep comfort items – like a stuffed animal. It’s heartbreaking hearing the journey of how many barriers and how much discrimination youth experience. I think involving them and hearing their voices is a huge success.