In light of the deadly opiod crisis gripping the Lower Mainland, a pair of events in North Delta and Surrey look to bridge the gap between drug users, first responders and the public at large in order to better understand one another. (Dan Jack photo)

North Delta, Surrey to hold overdose crisis community dialogues

First responders, victims and others will come together to discuss overdoses in the community

During an opioid crisis with a death toll that continues to climb, Laurie Edmundson wants to create dialogue about how people are affected by overdoses.

Edmundson is the project lead for the Overdose Crisis Community Dialogues, a two-night event organized through the Surrey-North Delta Local Action Team and Surrey Healthier Community Partnerships. She wanted the event to bring together everyone that is affected by overdoses, whether its drug users, first responders, family members, or nurses.

“Can you imagine being an overdose nurse, and having to go and reverse 20 overdoses a day? That’s obviously going to be really traumatic for you,” Edmundson said.

“But the thing is, the people that need to talk to each other aren’t given the opportunity,” she continued. “The overdose nurse isn’t going to be able to have a conservation with the person they’re reversing the overdose in about how this is also really hard for them.”

The dialogues, taking place in North Delta on Oct. 11 and Surrey on Oct. 12, will provide a place for that conversation.

At the event, there will be eight different tables, each featuring a different topic and headed by a person with lived experience of substance use, Edmundson said. They will tell their story, while members of the public listen. Then, the floor is open for people to share how this topic impacts them.

“It’s a really casual way of gaining greater understanding of what it’s like for various parties in this crisis, and through that reducing stigma,” she said.

There will be volunteers at each table to make sure the dialogue stays respectful, as well as counsellors on site.

The North Delta event will take place on Oct. 11 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the North Delta Recreation Centre. On Oct. 12, another community dialogue will happen at the Surrey Sports and Leisure Complex (110 – 16555 Fraser Hwy.) from 4:30 to 7 p.m.

There is no registration required — a logistical struggle for event planning, but something Edmundson felt was important to remove barriers for people attending — and the first 50 people will receive a free dinner. Naxolone will be available for distribution to eligible people through Fraser Health staff on site.

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