dedicated to those who have given bravely their life stories…
and to all who dare to imagine a better future
Walk With Me is an art-based community action project that seeks to uncover the human dimensions of the overdose crisis. This program includes Community Conversations, Food-Sharing, Artist Talks, Speakers, Healing Circles, a Film Screening, Panel Discussions, Policy Discussions, Story Walks and more. The artwork and audio created through this project can be visited:
September 30 – November 21 2020 (with the exception of closure on November 11th)
Wednesdays + Saturdays / 10am – 4:30pm
Drop-ins are welcome as space allows. COVID protocols will be followed.
It has been four years since the overdose crisis was labeled a public health emergency by the B.C. Government. Since then, over 3,600 lives have been lost throughout the province, including over 700 in the Island Health region. The introduction of COVID-19 as a second public health emergency has seemingly exacerbated the crisis, with May and June, 2020 marking the deadliest-ever months for drug overdoses in the province’s history.
This arts-based community action project seeks to uncover the human dimensions of the overdose crisis as it has unfolded locally in the Comox Valley. Within and through it, a group of artist-researchers, front-line workers and people with lived and living experience have banded together in a spirit of solidarity, attempting to come to terms with the impact of the crisis on individuals and community groups through a practice of story sharing. Through stories, we aim to cultivate awareness leading to change.
The stories, conveyed through audio recordings, drawings and photographs, are made accessible through a ‘walking practice’, in which participants are guided, via a map, through various ‘reflective spaces’ within Courtenay’s downtown core. Here we acknowledge the power of collective walking as it has been activated in such contexts as protest, meditation, grief and lost processions and community acts of solidarity. Through walking, participants are encouraged to viscerally engage with the stories; to find connectedness with the people and places at the heart of this work.
The stories we have been gifted may surprise, startle and enrage you. Some may make you laugh, and weep, as you travel through moments of human tenderness and connection. The stories may awaken in you, as they have in us, a desire to transform our community’s approach to this crisis. Together, they form a tapestry that honours the complexity and humanity of those facing this crisis first-hand.
Walk With Me is presented at the Comox Valley Art Gallery in partnership with Thompson Rivers University (TRU) and AVI Health and Community Services, alongside an advisory group of over 15 front-line organizations and people with lived and living experience. It is part of a research project Cultural Mapping the Opioid Crisis. The project has received approval from TRU’s Ethics Office, and activates an ongoing dialogue surrounding its ethical dimensions. We gratefully acknowledge funding received from Vancouver Island Health Authority, BC Arts Council and Vancouver Foundation.
To learn more about the project, visit: www.culturalmapping.ca