Submitted photos of Jen Block and Chris Goble.

Submitted photos of Jen Block and Chris Goble.

Island Health cyclists raise awareness of stigma linked with substance use

Jen Block and Chris Goble, Island Health employees who both reside in the Comox Valley, are starting a revolution.

“B.C. declared a public health emergency in 2016 because of a toxic drug supply,” said Goble, clinical supervisor substance use services. “Since then, we have felt nothing but frustration and an inability to effect change. For both of us it was a need to engage in action that led to the creation of the Revolution[s] Against Stigma ride.”

In the late summer of 2021, Block and Goble cycled 600 kilometres from Port Hardy to Victoria to raise awareness of the ongoing stigma against people who use substances. They felt compelled to engage in action, however small, to help increase awareness of the tragic loss of lives due to a toxic drug supply. Both show love (cleverly spelled backwards in the name) and hold compassion for people impacted by the toxic drug crisis in an attempt to move away from the ongoing stigma, violence and death that people who use substances face.

They are starting a conversation, and a revolution, about the ongoing stigma faced daily by people in the community.

“Our hope is that through the Revolution[s] Against Stigma ride we can start to effect change by bringing people who use drugs into the conversation,” said Block, manager, community health services. “We’re tackling stigma and raising funds to support peer inclusion and peer-led initiatives.”

The duo is again teaming with the Comox Valley Healthcare Foundation for the fundraising part of this year’s ride. Last year, they raised $7,225 to fund peer inclusion and initiatives that support people living with substance use disorder. This year they hope to do more.

“We want this revolution to raise awareness, and encourage people to start from a place of compassion and love,” they said. “Our ride corresponds with International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31. And on this day we show love by remembering our community members, friends, family and loved ones, who lost their lives too early.”

Jen and Chris invite you to join them in these revolution[s] in a way that makes sense for you. Find out how to get involved with Revolution[s] Against Stigma (RAS):

• Ask to join the RAS Facebook group to follow progress

• Follow RAS on Instagram: @revolution.rider

• Talk with friends and family about substance use and drug policy reform

• Support their fundraising efforts (proceeds to the Healthcare Foundation)

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