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New West anti-stigma video project seeks interview subjects

Variety of voices wanted for videos
From left, Travis Walker, site coordinator, and Will Place, senior harm reduction worker, aim to provide a welcoming and nonjudgmental vibe at the new health contact centre in New Westminster.

New Westminster's Community Action Team wants to decrease stigma around drug use – and it could use your help. 

Lynda Fletcher-Gordon, program director at the Lower Mainland Purpose Society, said the Community Action Team is working on creating two videos that deal with anti-stigma messaging. The team is looking for people who would like to participate by being interviewed.

Fletcher-Gordon said the power of stigma often leads substance users to hide their addiction from their family and friends, which puts them at risk of dying from contaminated drugs.

“The intent of these videos are to reduce stigmatization by seeing and listening to people who have stories to tell – stories of historical abuse, trauma, dependence on pain killers, bad luck or not so positive choices among a myriad of other things,” she said in an email to the Record.

The objectives of the campaign are: to  encourage people who are using drugs alone to engage in help-seeking and harm-reduction strategies; to reduce negative perceptions towards people who use drugs among other  community members who aren’t at risk for drug overdose; and to increase the number of residents who can share information about available resources and harm-reduction strategies.

“Things might be much simpler if people could just choose to put down the needle and the crack pipe.  Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, people simply cannot make that choice for themselves,” Fletcher-Gordon said. “Substance users are often stigmatized by the various social systems and their families, and this also gets in the way of people being able to make better choices for themselves.”

A variety of people will be interviewed for the first video, which will provide information on the city’s safe consumption site and other available services.

“The second video will focus on the people of New Westminster with lived or living experience of substance use,” said a notice about the project. “We want to find and include people who represent the diversity of folks in New Westminster. Of particular concern are folks who are using secretly, often at home alone, and do not use the various technologies that are available to keep them safe.”

Organizers need to identify interviewees and schedule interviews by Tuesday, Sept. 7. The interviews will be filmed on Saturday, Sept. 11 and Sunday, Sept. 12. 

Anyone who is interested in participating in this project or wants more information, can call Sydney Andrews at 604-526-2522 or email at

Follow Theresa McManus on Twitter @TheresaMcManus