Opioid dialogues

a photograph of heartspace in downtown victoria.
The heARTspace gallery, downtown Victoria, October 2017. Photo: Trudi Smith

CISUR has been provided with funds by the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General as part of the province’s commitment under the Joint Task Force on Overdose Response to develop and administer a grant program to support community dialogues.

Dialogue is a method of communication that involves two-way conversation where people not only speak to each other but also really listen. This kind of listening involves empathy. Each partner in a dialogue is curious about the experiences of the other partners – about their assumptions, beliefs and values. The goal is to leave the conversation with a better understanding.

Dialogue to address the opioid crisis is far more than talking about drugs. Since addiction is not simply about drugs but results from a breakdown in the fabric or connectedness of human community, the dialogue needs to help us understand each other and build social relationships that support individual needs, preferences and autonomy. The breakdown of this integration of the community and all its members is at the root of addiction. Dialogue is an important tool in re-building this integration.

Opioid Dialogues in Action

  • A police officer and a parent sitting at the same table told each other stories about how the opioid crisis affected them. "Both parties got to share their sides and then they both admitted to how hard it must be to be on the other side of things."
  • In a town of citizens "numbed" by the opioid problem, a coalition brought people with diverse views and backgrounds together through meal sharing and even poker games. “Dialogue is about a suspension of judgment that helps us to listen to each other. It’s about a new way of seeing each other."
  • Event organizers who invited diverse people to tell their stories through photography, followed by conversations with visitors, were impressed by "how easily the community came together and interacted with each other." They were also struck by how proud people were to be invited into such a creative conversation around drug use, "and that included health care providers and people who have experience with opiates.”
  • At the end of a large community dialogue, "the energy in the room of over 100 participants had shifted from ‘You need to do something about the needles’ to ‘What role can I play?'"

Grant recipients

Phase 1


Fraser Health 

  • Abbotsford Fentanyl Working Group
  • Langley Opioid Response Collaborative  
  • Lower Mainland Purpose Society  (New Westminster)
  • Maple Ridge Opioid Overdose Response Team
  • Matsqui Abbotsford Impact Society (part of Abbotsford Fentanyl Working Group)
  • Pacific Community Resources Society (Chilliwack)
  • Sources Community Resources (White Rock)
  • Surrey North Delta LAT
  • Surrey Vulnerable Women and Girls Working Group 

Interior Health

  • Addiction Matters Kamloops 
  • Bridge Youth& Family Services Society (Kelowna)
  • Boundary LAT (Grand Forks)
  • East Kootenay Addiction Services Society (Cranbrook)
  • Nelson Fentanyl Task Force

Vancouver Coastal Health

  • Sunshine Coast LAT (Sechelt)
  • PHS Community Services Society (Vancouver, Victoria)
  • Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (Vancouver, Kelowna)

Island Health

  • Cool Aid Society (Victoria)
  • Oceanside Public Health Services (Parksville)
  • Our Cowichan Communities Health Network (Duncan)
  • Port Alberni Shelter Society
  • Salt Spring and Southern Gulf Islands Community Services  Society (Ganges)
  • Umbrella Society (Victoria)

Northern Health

  • Haida Gwaii LAT (Queen Charlotte)
  • Positive Living North (Smithers, Prince George)
  • Saik’uz First Nation and Vanderhoof RCMP

Phase 2

Coming soon.

#OpioidDialogue grants in the media

#OpioidDialogue grant resources

Recent project activities

  • preparing a call for community coalitions from every region of the province to submit a letter of interest in engaging their community in dialogue about opioid and other drug use
  • developing a guide to community dialogue
  • evaluating applications and interviewing potential grantees about their project ideas
  • offering support to selected grantees by sharing resources, contacts, dialogue ideas and encouragement

Related projects

Researchers