Events are scheduled to spread awareness on the drug overdose crisis by White Rock, South Surrey’s Tides of Change Community Action Team.
The group was created after the overdose crisis emergency was declared in 2016 in B.C. They have a harm-reduction approach to supporting those facing addiction by doing outreach to make sure that supplies and resources are available to those who need them.
“There is a need to connect with those who are under-served by the community,” said Matthew Huot, White Rock’s CAT project coordinator.
There are approximately 20 other CATs throughout the province. Running support groups, doing outreach for those living on the streets who are experiencing addiction, providing naloxone training and advocating for a safe drug supply are among the tasks these groups complete.
The main goals of the group is to “reduce stigma towards people who use substances, raising awareness around the dangers of using in the overdose era and at the end of the day, our intention is to save peoples’ lives,” Huot said.
Through their many different initiatives, Tides of Change have been able to “create a sense of community for people who often feel like they don’t belong in the community.”
A nuanced approach is especially needed as the province battles the toxic drug supply and overdose crisis, Huot said, adding that complete sobriety is only one approach to battling addiction.
In May, Health Canada announced it would be decriminalizing the personal drug possession of up to 2.5-cumulative grams for B.C. residents starting Jan. 31, 2023. Many advocates, including Huot are critical, saying that this amount is too little.
“Once it’s gone, you’re going to go get more. A lot of people who are using on a daily basis are doing it to avoid going through withdrawals,” Huot said.
“You can go to the liquor store and buy a bottle of vodka and know exactly what’s in it, how strong it is, that’s a way to use safely. So why are we not providing the services when we know the drugs out there are killing people?”
There will be a resources expo held in White Rock in conjunction with the White Rock Farmer’s Market on Sunday, August 28 from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. at the White Rock Community Centre.
In addition, the end of August is nearing and so is International Overdose Awareness Day, on Wednesday, August 31. The White Rock promenade will hold an event that evening at 5 p.m. in partnership with the City to remember lives lost to overdose.
There will also be a food truck where residents can purchase meals by donation, with the money collected going towards the Phoenix Drug & Alcohol Recovery & Education Society.