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Downtown audio journey shines light on local toxic drug crisis

Locals will soon have the chance to listen in on the ongoing toxic drug poisoning crisis, hearing stories recorded from those who have experienced it first hand.

The Walk With Me team is making its way north to Campbell River, launching a handful of community walks starting this Saturday, Oct. 25th, and for the five Saturdays following until Oct. 30th.

Participants are invited to meet at Spirit Square on Shoppers Row at either 10:30 am or 12:30 pm, joining the team for an audio journey around downtown.

Walk With Me first originated in the Comox Valley, but Campbell River Community Action Team (CAT) coordinator Gwen Donaldson says they’ve partnered together to bring these walks to town.

“We’re just grateful to have the Walk With Me team up here carrying the stories from our community,” Donaldson tells My Campbell River Now.

“During the walk, we’ll start with a circle debrief,” she explains. “Then everybody will put on a cordless audio headset and we will walk together in small groups and listen to the journeys of people from our community who are directly involved in the current toxic drug crisis.”

According to Donaldson, the stories were collected over the last three months. The intent behind it all is to “make change.”

“Everybody will walk with these stories and come together at Spirit Square and have a sharing circle at the end,” Donaldson explains, noting the toxic drug crisis is something she finds affects so many people locally.

“Often we don’t hear or understand how it affects everybody individually.”

She continues, “This is just a really amazing opportunity to hear the powerful voices in our community that have been affected by the toxic drug crisis. It brings a level of understanding and awareness of the real human impact of the crisis.”

The Walk With Me project was developed in response to the crisis that organizers find has blindsided both municipal governments and communities, large and small, across the country.

“The crisis has had a heavy impact in B.C. Since it was labeled a provincial emergency in 2016, illicit drug toxicity deaths have totaled over 6,500,” they say. “For governments, communities, front-line workers, families, and people with lived and living experience, the crisis can feel insurmountable.”

Walk With Me organizers add, “This project, developed by research and community teams in Kamloops and the Comox Valley, brings together diverse stakeholders to re-frame the crisis and imagine new ways forward.”

As well, the project received funding from Vancouver Foundation, BC Arts Council, and Island Health. Find more details here.

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