The Coalition of Substance Users of the North (CSUN) is celebrating the grand opening of its new office space in West Quesnel during International Overdose Awareness Day Saturday, Aug. 31 from 4-6 p.m. at Unit 3, 445 Anderson Dr., across from Aroma Foods.
At this location, CSUN is offering naloxone training and distribution; harm reduction training and distribution of harm reduction supplies; peer-to-peer support services; peer support for family and friends affected by substance use; drug checking; focus groups and general meetings; peer engagement, training and education opportunities; advocacy with health services partners; testing for HIV, Hepatitis C and sexually transmitted disease; partnerships with cross-sectoring groups; and referrals to mental health and wellness services.
CSUN also has a partnership with the Clean Team, which cleans up garbage and drug paraphernalia on the streets.
CSUN is an alliance of people who use or have used currently illicit drugs.
“Our members are dedicated to improving life for all substance users who live in the northern region of B.C. and throughout Canada,” according to CSUN’s mission statement. “CSUN supports substance users by facilitating the development of programs, services and resources for our community members and providing regional representation and community-based participation in B.C.’s and Canada’s overall response to the overdose crisis and any and all matters impacting people who use drugs.”
The CSUN office is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 4-8 p.m., and closed Tuesday and Thursday.
“CSUN is a space created by present and former drug users and our allies, for present or former users and our allies,” said CSUN founder and president Charlene Burmeister.
Burmeister sits on the board of the B.C./Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors and the board of the Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs. She works as a provincial peer co-ordinator with the First Nations Health Authority on the Compassion, Inclusion and Engagement Project. She is also a member of the Peer Engagement and Evaluation Project with the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), and she is integrating herself into her new role with the BCCDC as provincial peer co-ordinator.
“CSUN members are engaged in work on a local, provincial and national level,” said Burmeister, who has been doing this work for 10 years.
Burmeister says during CSUN’s office hours, they welcome people who use drugs and welcome respectful engagement from community members.
“We encourage people who use substances to access our services and get to know our volunteers, and the space provided for those who use substances,” she said. “CSUN is super excited to celebrate our recent success of obtaining non-sustainable funding, and we will continue to work to access funding to provide the space in the future.
“Clients who have visited our location already have clearly expressed how amazing it is for them to have a space where they feel included and accepted, and a space without judgment, stigma or discrimination.”
To learn more about the new CSUN office and the services it provides, call the office at 250-991-0091.