Respect Connect: A Better Community for Us All is an online educational series available to everyone in the community. There is no charge. Image: Submitted

Respect Connect: A Better Community for Us All is an online educational series available to everyone in the community. There is no charge. Image: Submitted

Trail CAT encourages locals to take part in anti-stigma learning opportunity

Series addresses stigma surrounding issues such as homelessness, mental illness and substance use

Submitted by Trail Community Action Team (Trail CAT)

People may have noticed posters around town lately promoting a webinar — A Community’s Guide to Homelessness.

The event, which attracted over 200 people, was the first in an educational series that includes speakers, events, ads and articles in the newspaper and online, and virtual and in-person training.

Respect & Connect: A Better Community for Us All addresses the stigma surrounding issues such as homelessness, mental illness and substance use.

The series will provide insight and tools to help us better interact with everyone in our community, whatever their circumstances.

Stigma refers to the negative attitudes or beliefs about people because of who they are, what they do, or their circumstances in life.

According to Trail CAT (Community Action Team) co-chair Tammy McLean, “It can be as subtle as not looking a person in the eye as you walk by or as overt as a business refusing a person service. Stigma can be very dangerous, as it may prevent people from accessing life-saving health services.”

Co-chair Diana Daghofer explains that the title, Respect & Connect, was chosen to reflect the fact that people dealing with substance use are best served through an understanding of their individual circumstances. “A comment that resonates with me is author Johann Hari’s, ‘The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.’ People dealing with substance use all have an individual history and story that brought them to their current place in life. We need to look past the stereo-type and recognize individuals for all that they are.”

Respect & Connect is brought to you by the Trail CAT, along with community partners. (The speaker series is organized alongside the Trail and District Public Library, Selkirk College Faculty Association, Trail Arts Council, Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy, and the BC General Employees Union).

The Trail CAT was formed over the past year by a number of people concerned about the harms caused by substance use.

Our CAT is modelled after others in the province, established to address the overdose crisis, declared a public health emergency by the BC government in 2016. Since April 2016, more than 8,500 people have died in our province.

The Trail CAT is made up of members of Moms Stop the Harm, ANKORS (HIV/AIDS Networking, Outreach and Support Society), REDUN (Rural Empowered Drug Users Network) and Career Development Services (CDS) which operates a homeless shelter in Trail. We have been joined by members of the Trail United Church, a nurse educator, a youth representative and Selkirk College nursing students. City of Trail representatives, employees of Interior Health and the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, and the RCMP attend our meetings as well. We follow the mandate of the Overdose Emergency Response Centre to (1) save lives, (2) end stigma, (3) provide addiction and mental health services and (4) address the range of social supports that determine health: housing, income, employment, intergenerational trauma and community development.

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

Read more: ‘Respect and Connect’ will benefit the Greater Trail community

The Trail CAT is open to all parties interested in reducing the harms caused by substance use. For more information, please refer to our Facebook page or contact us at TrailBCCAT@gmail.com.

Many thanks to funders of our programs: the Cities of Rossland and Trail, the Reaching Home program (Canada’s Homelessness Strategy) and the United Way.



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