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Live in the West Kootenay? Consider joining virtual series addressing local homelessness issues

“A Community’s Guide to Homelessness,” will be presented via Zoom from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Dec. 10.
This first Zoom session offers educational training that will focus on practical skills for preventing and de-escalating conflict. This presentation is for everyone in the community and there is no charge. Image: Submitted

There’s plenty of passionate viewpoints regarding homelessness in general, including all the complex aspects surrounding homelessness in the City of Trail.

Amid this community reality, and amid the ever-growing housing shortage, West Kootenay residents are faced with an increasing number of people who are without homes and may also be struggling with mental illness, substance dependencies and other issues.

To help address concerns that may arise — and certainly have within the City of Trail over the past 24 months — a group of local organizations is launching a virtual series called “Respect and Connect,” starting Dec. 10.

This first session is part of a broader anti-stigma effort titled ‘Respect and Connect: A better community for us all.”

The series was created by Ryan Dowd, an executive director of a large homeless shelter in Chicago, and author of a book titled, “The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness: An Empathy-Driven approach to Solving Problems, Preventing Conflict and Serving Everyone.”

Samantha Murphy, director of the Trail and District Public Library, brought the idea to a number of community partners after participating in Dowd’s workshop herself a year ago.

“Ryan’s advice is so practical and helpful, it has helped us significantly reduce conflict at the library,” Murphy said. “I highly recommend it for anyone working with the public.”

The first session, called “A Community’s Guide to Homelessness,” will be presented via Zoom from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 10.

“Join us for (this) training program on how empathy can help us solve problems, prevent conflicts and serve everyone better,” Murphy emphasized.

To public is invited to join by registering at:

Or register here: Respect and Connect.

There is no charge to participate.

In this first offering of the educational series, Dowd explains how empathy enhances our ability to resolve or avoid conflict and gives people the tools to confidently and compassionately solve problem behavior for everyone’s benefit.

“He delves into the psychology of social interactions like reciprocity and building relationships and demonstrates their use through common scenarios,” organizers explain. “This captivating workshop will offer insight into the lives of people living without a home and provide specific tools to improve community interactions.”

Diana Daghofer, a member of the Trail Community Action Team notes, “Stigma — negative attitudes or beliefs about people because of who they are, what they do, or their circumstances in life — can be extremely dangerous. It prevents people from accessing vital services like work, housing, health care and even shopping for essentials.”

This free series comes courtesy the Trail and District Public Library, Selkirk College, Trail Arts Council, Trail Community Action Team and Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy.

The series will run monthly until the spring, bringing more learning opportunities that delve into the subjects of substance use, mental health and related issues.

“Our communities are full of caring people, but some may be feeling stressed or anxious by how our communities are changing,” Nadine Tremblay, executive director of the Trail arts council, adds. “‘Respect and Connect: A better community for us all’ will provide people with the insight and tools to better communicate with unhoused people.”

For more information contact Samantha Murphy at the Trail library by calling 250.364.0806, or

Read more: Be part of Coldest Night of the Year in Trail

Read more: Coins for Change: Spotlights homelessness in Greater Trail

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Sheri Regnier

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