AGENCIES responsible for public safety, health, children and youth, and governance in Delta are joining together to host a community forum on the impacts of the toxic drug supply here in Delta.
Family members, friends, those who use drugs, and community members are invited to take part, ask questions, and add their voice at the End the Stigma forum happening on Wednesday, April 13 at 6:30 p.m. at North Delta Secondary School.
The forum is a collaboration between the City of Delta, Delta Police Department, Tsawwassen First Nation, Delta School District, Fraser Health, and Delta Fire and Emergency Services. Delta Mayor George V. Harvie will provide opening remarks and the Delta Police Department will be facilitating a panel, including the opportunity for the public to ask questions. Deputy Chief Harj Sidhu is going to MC the event and act as the facilitator.
* Katie Alexander, Tsawwassen First Nation, Manager, TFN Health and Social Services
* Kirsten Hermanson, Delta School District, Manager of Prevention and Wellness
* Kam Singh, Mukti Society, Substance Use Counselor (can address questions in Punjabi)
The forum will also be an opportunity to hear from leaders and advocates on the stigma of drug use and what needs to be done to stop the growing number of overdose deaths.
The featured speakers include:
* Dr. Maulik Baxi, Fraser Health Medical Health Officer, will speak on the negative effects stigma has on health and substance use, and the positive effects of social connection on health. He will also offer ways individuals can help to end stigma and talk about the positive effect harm reduction has in stabilizing health in individuals, communities and the health care system overall.
* Curtis Joe, a Courage to Come Back award recipient from 2013, overcame abuse as a child, a traumatic experience in foster care and a violent criminal past. He struggled to find employment for 14 years, continuing to take courses, and now helps mentor youths at the Delta School District. He will be speaking about stigma and how it has impacted his family.
* Guy Felicella, Peer Clinical Advisor and Courage to Come Back award recipient 2021, began self-medicating with drugs at age 12, to deal with his anxiety and depression. This lead to a 30-year cycle of addiction, homelessness, crime, jail and gang involvement. Now he’s a passionate advocate, who joins other British Columbians who are heartbroken, frustrated and angry over the unfathomable loss that continues, with at least 207 additional British Columbians killed by toxic drugs alone in January 2022.
Exhibitors who provide crisis, addiction, and counselling services will be on site from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., including Little House Society, Deltassist, Fraser Health, and the Lookout Society. Naloxone Training will be available from 8 to 8:30 p.m.
Mayor Harvie said: “Substance use has impacted so many people and families in Delta. It is clear that we need community-oriented solutions to help save more lives. This community forum is a joint effort by agencies across Delta to tackle this issue and reduce the stigma around substance use. I am looking forward to hearing from the inspiring speakers on what we as Deltans can do, together, to help end the stigma and make it easier for people to access support and treatment.”
“So many families and friends are grieving the loss of a loved one, due to the ongoing contamination of the illicit drug supply,” said Dr. Baxi. “People who use substances in Delta, or anywhere else, are not defined by their drug use. We need to be aware of our biases and behaviours, which can be influenced by stereotypes, negative stories, and images of people who use drugs.”
Dr. Baxi points out that last year 20 residents in Delta died due to the poisoned illicit drug supply. Province-wide more than 2,200 died in 2021.