Name of Town: Victoria, Westshore,
Upholds a successful multi-micro-granting process of innovative grassroots initiatives annually
A Q&A with Katrina Jensen and Tracey Thompson of the Victoria CAT.
“Family members are such an untapped resource in terms of the overdose response,” – Katrina Jensen, Executive Director, AVI Health and Community Services Society
Members of the Community Action Initiative team sat down with Katrina Jensen, Executive Director, AVI Health and Community Services Society and Tracey Thompson, Harm Reduction Coordinator, Island Health to discuss the evolution, learnings, and proud moments experienced while working with the Victoria CAT. Here’s what they had to say.
We were really fortunate to have additional funding through Community Action Initiative (CAI) to form the South Island Community Overdose Response Network (SICORN) in early 2017. SICORN was really focused on frontline workers, family members, and PWLLE. This group has continued as a grassroots group, and while the CAT still has grassroots members, it has broader municipal and law enforcement members as well. If we hadn’t been working with SICORN, we wouldn’t have been as successful as we were with the formation of the CAT. Many of us – especially family members of PWLLE – have come from SICORN and continue to be a part of SICORN.
The peer-witnessing program was very well received by the residents and the people selected to be peer witnessers. The ability to create and quickly pivot to this opportunity for those facing housing insecurity and temporary housing was especially meaningful for everyone. Their drive to continue to improve the program demonstrates their commitment to helping others and the success of the program. Peers developed their own signage, relayed constant feedback about improving the program, and expressed their sadness of the program’s end. Peers brought empathy and compassion for their fellow residents. It’s a great model of what is possible.
It was one of the first projects that we funded as a CAT in the fall of 2019. Nancy worked really hard with other members of MSTH to set up this support group. They were able to pivot really quickly and put it online due to COVID.
- In 2019, families were definitely not being included in the overdose crisis as they are now, and it was really our CAT identifying this. For me, personally, one of the amazing experiences I’ve had is being in a meeting and talking and working with family members in a way that we hadn’t before. Both family members who have lost loved ones as well as those who are still supporting their loved ones. Family members are such an untapped resource in terms of the overdose response.