Meet Myra, Indigenous Outreach Worker at Cheam Reservation, an Indigenous community located in Rosedale B.C., and home to the Stó:lō people.
Myra has graciously shared with us her story about the impactful day-to-day work she and the team does within the community.
“We work hard to support community members struggling with substance use, while also building community rapport and engagement.
Like many Indigenous communities, Cheam Reservation faces unique challenges, including substance use and addiction. To address this, the reservation has implemented a harm reduction program, and at the forefront of this initiative are the dedicated Indigenous Harm Reduction Outreach Workers.
[This role is] both demanding, yet rewarding. The team plays a crucial role in supporting community members struggling with substance use, providing education, resources, and a compassionate ear.
For many of us, the day begins by reviewing our schedules and prioritizing tasks for the day. The first step is to check in with the local health center band office, where they may meet with other health care professionals, social workers, or counsellors to discuss ongoing cases and collaborate on strategies to support individuals in need.
Next, we prepare outreach materials, including harm reduction kits and supplies. These supplies include clean needles, sharp containers for safe disposal, inhalation kits, naloxone kits (used to reverse opioid overdoses), condoms, coffee and small snacks, and information on safe drug use practices.
Once the preparations are complete, we head out into the community, currently a stationary site located at Cheam, to engage with individuals in the community who are struggling. Building trust is crucial, so they approach each interaction with empathy, respect, and cultural sensitivity.
During these engagements, we provide harm reduction education, emphasizing safer drug use practices and the importance of not using alone, and distribute harm reduction kits to ensure that individuals have access to the supplies they need to help keep them safe.
We also connect individuals to local addiction wellness workers, mental health services, and other support programs, acting as a bridge between the community and these resources and helping individuals navigate the social support system.
The team is there to answers questions and provide education to community members seeking clarification and knowledge regarding the importance of harm reduction.
At the end of the day, the team restocks supplies and documents interactions with non-identifier information. The number of harm reduction supplies distributed, the individuals they connected with treatment services, and any other relevant information is documented.”
Fraser Health is the heart of health care for nearly two million people in 20 diverse communities from Burnaby to Fraser Canyon on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the Coast Salish and Nlaka’pamux Nations, and is home to six Métis Chartered Communities.
Our hospital and community-based services are delivered by a team of 45,000+ staff, medical staff and volunteers dedicated to serving our patients, families and communities.