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Free overdose awareness, naloxone training event coming to Langley

Discussions about stigma, harm reduction, and support part of March 4 event
Langley Community Action team members are holding a Courage Cafe to raise awareness and tackle stigma about the toxic drug supply crisis. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Langley’s Community Action Team (CAT) is inviting the public to a free “Courage Cafe” event to join in a variety of discussions about the toxic drug supply crisis.

In partnership with Social Justice Langley and We All Play a R.O.L.E., the event will be held at the United Churches of Langley in Murrayville on Monday, March 4.

The goal of the event is to foster dialogue and build bridges into the community, said Daniel Snyder with the CAT.

“It’s unfortunate that this crisis has formed ‘sides’ so to speak, and we hope to build bridges [in] recognizing there are many pathways, many approaches, and many unique individuals at risk of overdose,” Snyder explained.

RELATED: Langley to honour loved ones on Overdose Awareness Day on Aug. 31

Six main themes at roundtables will be featured at the event, including stigma, exploring root causes of drug use, harm reduction and recovery, and support for youth and loved ones.

Snyder said much of the stigma today around drug use was created from the ways it was handled historically through a black-and-white lens, such as ‘drugs are bad.’

“As a result, we’ve criminalized, ousted, and driven into hiding our own community and family members,” he noted.

He added that in the last decade or two the academic understanding of addiction and substance use has come a long way, but it hasn’t “made it’s way into the minds of the general public yet.”

“Our learning should never stop,” he said.

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Langley honours more than 300 lost to toxic drug supply on Aug. 31

Coming from his own experiences with addiction and substance use, Snyder said even he still doesn’t have all the answers because there are no perfect solutions to the complex issues of drug use and addiction.

“We want to build compassion and empathy in our communities. Curiosity is a key in all this, and I’ve recently learned that you really can’t be curious and judgemental at the same time,” he commented.

The event takes place on Monday, March 4, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the United Churches of Langley.

It’s located at 21562 Old Yale Rd.

Snyder said the team is also hoping to schedule some related film screenings throughout the year to further educate people as the crisis continues.

“The urgency and hope seems to be fading away. However, it’s clear just listening to the news and the way our substance use and our approach has become to entwined with politics, that there is lots of learning still needed,” he said.

Langley recorded its second highest year of drug poisoning deaths in 2023, with 47 people lost to the unregulated drug supply crisis.

At a rate of just over 3.6 deaths per month, Langley passed the number of deaths it saw in 2022 – 44 deaths.

The worst year in Langley’s history of unregulated drug deaths was 58 deaths in 2021.

B.C. Coroner’s Service January report shows that the crisis claimed the lives of 2,511 people last year, a record-breaking number in the last decade of data for the province.

READ MORE: 47 people lost to unregulated drug supply crisis in Langley last year

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Kyler Emerson

About the Author: Kyler Emerson

I'm excited to start my journalism career in Langley and meet our community.
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