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Pilot project gives qathet youth tools to make informed choices

Initiative aims to provide better education for youth around substances they may be exposed to
PUBLIC FORUM: Co-chairs of qathet Youth Community Action Team (yCAT) Brayden Brown [left] and Emmy-Lou Corbett hosted an open house at qathet Art Centre on Wednesday, April 17. The public forum introduced a new project that aims to equip youth with the tools to navigate substances.

Youth in BC face enormous challenges when it comes to navigating substances and are disproportionately affected by the current toxic drug supply in the province. BC Coroners Service reported that from January 1, 2017, to December 31, 2022, there were 142 unregulated drug toxicity deaths in BC of persons younger than 19 years of age.

Rural communities such as the qathet region, as well as large urban centres, are being impacted, and yet there is a lack of evidence-based drug/substance use programs offered to youth, according to Dr. Emily Jenkins, a registered nurse and associate professor in the School of Nursing at University of British Columbia who has a website called

qathet Youth Community Action Team (yCAT), the youth branch of the qathet Community Action Team (qCAT), began a pilot project in early March of this year to gauge feedback and collect opinions about their initiative called: Party Again, A Safer Partying Project. The initiative aims to address what they see as a lack of education, tools and skills being offered to youth in qathet in order for them to engage in safer, harm reduction, consent-based practices around substance use.

On Wednesday, April 17, the yCAT team presented its peer-led, youth-oriented, substance use safety curriculum at a public forum at qathet Art Centre, above Powell River Public Library. The group is starting to offer the course free of charge to community groups and schools and hosted the event in order for the public to learn more about the initiative.

yCAT co-chairs Brayden Brown and Emmy-Lou Corbett presented the Party Again, A Safer Partying Project, outlining the objectives and curriculum. During the presentation the group emphasized that while the project is not abstinence-based, they do not encourage substance use. 

"We are giving youth and those who engage in this education the proper toolkit to be able to navigate substance use in day-to-day lives and social events,” according to the project overview.

“We called the course Party Safe, Party Again (Party Again) because it really drills home that information can save lives. We know that youth are exposed to substances, and we want them to make the safest possible choices so they can keep themselves and their friends safe,” stated Brown, in an earlier media release. “The intention with this program is to provide youth with evidence-based information so they can make informed decisions for themselves." 

Brown said that the curriculum was developed using sources such as Health Canada, Vancouver Coastal Health’s Bold Learning for Understanding Sexual Health (BLUSH) program, the BC Centre for Disease Control, and the BC Centre for Substance Use.

Jennifer Whiteside, provincial minister of mental health and addictions, released the following statement regarding the BC Coroners Service report on illicit drug toxicity deaths in February 2024: "February's report from the BC Coroners Service marks the loss of 177 people to toxic drugs."

yCAT is an open community group for youths aged 15 to 29 that "aims to amplify youth voices and address social issues through harm-reduction education and collaborative action," according to the yCAT website.

yCAT has received funding to pilot the Party Again project for one year.

“As youth who have grown up in this community, we know some of the unique challenges qathet region-based youth face,”  stated Brown, “and we want to deliver this educational program in that context.

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