The Port Alberni Shelter Society is located on Eighth Avenue in Port Alberni, near John Paul II Catholic School and the Port Alberni RCMP station. AV NEWS FILE PHOTO

It’s time to talk openly about opioid addictions, says Port Alberni Shelter Society

Shelter Society earns grant to hold public meetings, get the word out on opioid crisis

The Port Alberni Shelter Society will be holding a series of dialogues on opioid use in the community with the help of a grant.

The University of Victoria’s Centre for Addictions Research of BC (CARBC) is providing select communities with grants ranging from $2,000 to $15,000 to support community dialogues in response to the opioid overdose crisis in British Columbia.

The Shelter Society applied for and received one of these grants, and the society plans to hold an Opioid Dialogue Program over a period of six months within the boundaries of the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District.

“We’re hoping to draw in First Nations, as well,” said John Douglas, special projects coordinator of the Shelter Society.

Dialogue, as opposed to debate, is a method of communication that involves two-way conversation where people not only speak to each other, but also listen. The goal is to leave the conversation with a better understanding, he said.

“The hope is to create discussions of all the different opinions that exist around this crisis,” said Douglas. “The idea behind it is to get the different viewpoints.”

One viewpoint, for example, is that of empathy—the community should help people out of their addictions. Another viewpoint comes from people who feel that those who are addicted have already been given a chance and should be let go.

“We want to have them voiced,” said Douglas. “And hopefully we can bring the community together in the middle.”

Douglas said that the best way to tackle dialogue is to get the whole community involved.

The Shelter Society will be using avenues such as social media, public debates, newspaper and radio and even a trip out to Tofino and Ucluelet to get the dialogue going.

The dialogue will conclude with a half-day forum, featuring a guest speaker, in February.

“We want to have pieces that are more long-term and permanent,” said Douglas, citing relationship-building, curriculum for students and social media sites.

If you have any questions, suggestions or wish to take part in and support the Opioid Dialogues, contact Douglas at john_pashelter@shaw.ca.

elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

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