University of the Fraser Valley
Close up of arms resting on table before a meal with freshly plated food sitting in front of them.

Stopping stigma by sharing supper: ROAR and ATS collaborate to talk opioid crisis over dinner

Stopping stigma by sharing supper: ROAR and ATS collaborate to talk opioid crisis over dinner

Abbotsford’s ROAR (Reducing Overdose, Abbotsford Response) community, in collaboration with the Faculty of Applied & Technical Studies (ATS), is hosting a free dinner at UFV’s Rivers Dining Room to discuss the impact of the opioid crisis on workers in trades. Held at UFV’s Trades and Technology Centre in Chilliwack on Tuesday, Dec 5, the event runs 6-8 pm.

“I’m pleased to support and attend this dinner.” Says Teresa Kisilevich, Dean of ATS. “I imagine some of the conversations we will have will be challenging and difficult, but they may help to shift our perspectives. Perhaps a conversation today may save a life tomorrow.”

The initiative stems from an urgent need to address the toxic drug crisis while acknowledging that since 2016, three out of four opioid related deaths were men, with nearly 50 percent working in trades.

“All over B.C there are these community action teams, Abbotsford ROAR one of them that the government put in place to make sure that the specific community needs are being met, as each community has its own unique challenges.” says Carrie Besko, a key organizer of the event and the Coordinator at ROAR. “Even though it’s community specific, we’re really trying to bridge some gaps there because there is a lot of overlap (in the Fraser Valley)”.

The Dec 5 event will involve table dialogues facilitated by individuals with diverse perspectives — including those with lived and living experience — aimed at fostering connections and promoting understanding. The emphasis is not on imposing opinions, but on creating a shared ground, breaking down barriers, and encouraging evidence-based strategies for harm reduction, says Besko.

The evening aims to create a safe and conducive environment for open dialogue and shared learning experiences. Several UFV culinary students will be engaging with the community during the event as wait table staff and by participating around the table.

Greg, a representative from the Tailgate Toolkit program will also be speaking on trades-specific issues and harm reduction strategies. This collaborative initiative signifies a crucial step towards fostering empathy, understanding, and informed community action in addressing the multifaceted opioid crisis. By encouraging dialogue, the evening endeavours to pave the way for a more compassionate and inclusive approach around safety for those who use substances.

Anyone interested in attending the dinner is asked to email an RSVP request to Marlie Murphy at