Ellen Frood, from the Alberni Community and Woman’s Services Society and co-chair of the Port Alberni Community Action Team (CAT), Debra Hamilton, from the Alberni Valley Drug and Alcohol Prevention Service and CAT co-chair, and Mark Lacroix, CAT co-ordinator. The Community Action Team welcomes anyone interested in overdose prevention to a Jan. 31 public information session.

‘Every person has a family, a story and a future’

Public information session aims to build discussion around overdose crisis

Like communities across B.C., the Alberni Valley has been hit hard by the opioid crisis, declared a public health emergency in 2016.

The impact has taken its toll on individuals, families and the greater community, but the Port Alberni Community Action Team (CAT) aims to change that.

Initiatives aim to:

  • provide more overdose prevention services
  • provide more opportunities for meaningful paid peer program activities, such as increasing employment at the overdose prevention site
  • increase representation from people with lived experience, such as those dealing with substance use issues and family of those impacted
  • decrease stigma
  • reduce barriers to accessing services for people who use drugs

Community forum planned

The key to achieving all these goals is information. With that in mind, a series of community forums addressing stigma, discrimination and human rights kicks off with a Jan. 31 public information session at the Barclay Hotel.

“We have a lot of really good representation for that forum, including local RCMP, BC Ambulance paramedics, the medical director from the Vancouver Island Health Authority and representatives from the First Nations Health Authority,” says Mark Lacroix , CAT co-ordinator. Also speaking will be a local resident who will share through lived experience addiction’s impact on families.

Who’s welcome? Anyone with an interest in overdose prevention: people who use substances; parents and families; business owners and neighbours; health-care providers; decision-makers and the general public.

The Port Alberni Community Action Team: who they are, what they do

Supported by provincial funding to communities identified as having the most urgent need, the Port Alberni Community Action Team includes community members, people with lived experience and representatives from the Port Alberni Shelter Society, The New Leaf, Canadian Mental Health Association, Alberni Drug & Alcohol Prevention, Alberni Community & Women’s Services, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, Port Alberni Friendship Centre, BC Ambulance Service, First Nation Health Authority, Island Health, the City of Port Alberni and Shopper’s Drug Mart.

“We provide support to people at risk of overdose before it’s too late, including co-ordinating life-saving interventions, early intervention, services and treatment for people who use substances,” explains Deb Hamilton, CAT co-chair/Alberni Valley Drug and Alcohol Prevention Service.

At the CAT’s core is the belief that every person has a family, a story and a future. And while substance dependency is a chronic relapsing condition, treatment is available.

“We help keep people alive so positive change can happen when they’re ready,” Lacroix says. “We all share responsibility for keeping members of our community safe. And safety begins when every person feels belonging, compassion and empathy.”

Join the discussion

The Port Alberni Community Action Team public information session begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Barclay Room at the Barclay Hotel and all are welcome. For more information visit www.facebook.com/CATportalberni.

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