Nelson Fentanyl Task Force (NFTF) | Castlegar Fentanyl Opioid Working Group | Grand Forks Community Action Team

Formed in:  2016
Communities served:  

Our stakeholders serve many different populations including youth, LGBTQ people, Indigenous people.


Nelson Fentanyl Task Force (NFTF; the name of the Nelson CAT), was founded in 2016 shortly after the public health crisis was declared. It was founded by three different parties: Interior Health, the AIDS Network Kootenay Outreach and Support Society (ANKORS) – which is our local/regional harm reduction provider – and the Nelson City Police.
We’ve been really lucky to have ANKORS West here. They’ve been a long-time social services organization in the Kootenays, addressing the AIDS crisis early on. The workers are really well respected. There’s great rapport within the organization between peers and ANKORS staff. We have a really special community here in Nelson. We have a lot of collaboration going on among organizations here.
 Right around the same time as the NFTF was being formed, we formed the Castlegar CAT – the Castlegar Fentanyl Opioid Working Group/CFOWG. Nelson and Castlegar are closely linked. The main reason the CFOWG formed was to address stigma against peers, to address the underutilization of health care services, and to promote low-barrier health care services for peers
 All our West Kootenay CAT work is collaborative in nature. We make decisions together at our meetings through discussion and agreement among members. We greatly value our peer perspective, and we seek to centralize the lived experience of peers. Peers have had to navigate our healthcare systems and social support systems to access care. The CAT groups promote local regional development of a social justice lens and the impact of colonialization on Indigenous people. We are mindful of the need to work with respect as we communicate. We seek to make connections among workers that will help reduce risk of overdose death for our vulnerable populations.

Overview of Overdose Response Work
• Empowering peers to be part of the conversation.
• Engaging stakeholders to work together with a common purpose.
• Promotion of low-barrier harm reduction practices to our greater community and region.
• Setting a regional standard in terms of anti-stigma practices and inclusion of peers in community.

Lessons Learned
Quote: “We must have transparency, honesty, respect, and deeply value the other if we are to do this work. We need to acknowledge loss and grief, the marginalization of peers and unhoused community, the stigma around drug use, the history of colonization. We need to acknowledge that we are in an overdose crisis and that workers need to learn ongoing about better ways to come together to serve our local peer populations to reduce risk of overdose and to reduce stigma against people who use drugs. Learning together is the best way to do this kind of work, and we need to set a standard around nonviolent communication styles and collaborative work.”

Related Communities

Table of Contents