“Walk With Me” aims to uncover the human dimensions of the toxic drug poisoning crisis in small B.C. communities. The crisis has had a heavy impact in BC. Since it was labeled a provincial emergency in 2016, illicit drug toxicity deaths have totaled over 9,400.
Project Dates: June 1, 2022 – May 31, 2025
Funding Amount: $585,000
The Walk With Me project is a research and systems/community change initiative designed to reduce harm and address stigma associated with the toxic drug poisoning crisis. The Project has been developed by a team comprised of community-engaged researchers, Elder/Knowledge Keepers, outreach workers, artists and People with Lived Experience – all of whom are committed to facilitating change. This team conducts various forms of community-engaged research; hosts ‘story walks’, in which groups of participants are guided on curated outdoor audio walking journeys through which they listen to stories of the drug poisoning crisis gifted to the project from People With Lived Experience, family members and front-line workers; and facilitates talking circles. Participants in these initiatives deepen their understanding of the personal and systemic impact of the crisis and are supported in imagining pathways forward.
For more information about the Walk With Me project or to view the upcoming community walks schedule please go to the Walk With Me website.
Kathleen Haggith, Co-Lead Researcher
Kathleen is currently the Dean of the Faculty of Health & Human Services at North Island College and has been involved as a member of the Walk With Me Leadership Team since inception in 2019. Kathleen has held a variety of instructional and administrative roles within both colleges and universities in the British Columbian post-secondary sector. Kathleen also worked in community for a number of years in both the human services and educational fields.
Sharon Karsten, Co-Lead Investigator
Sharon Karsten is a cultural and community development researcher/practitioner. She currently serves as co-investigator / Project Director (Comox Valley) for the ‘Walk With Me’ project (2019-present); and previously was engaged in a SSHRC-funded cultural mapping initiative through Vancouver Island University – ‘Where is Here – Small Cities, Deep Mapping, Sustainable Futures’ (2016). Throughout the past 15 years, Karsten has served in leadership roles within cultural organizations.
Barb Whyte,Traditional Knowledge Keeper
Barb is carrier of the Coast Salish Healing Wand. She is a descendent of the Pentlatch people on her father’s side; her mother was adopted from the residential school orphanage system into the Sahtloot people – the highest-ranking tribe in the K’omoks Territory. Barb comes from Chiefs lineage on both sides of her family. Her grandfather was the appointed chief of the Pentlatch people. Barb has worked in health, as a nurse for 48 years, and has served over the past four years as the Voice for the Vulnerable Population on the Primary Care Network developed by the Division of Family Practice. Whyte continues this work in the Walk With Me project, where she has served, since the project’s inception.
Nadine Bariteau, Creative Director
Nadine is an artist, activist and community change advocate. Her practice is rooted in printmaking, installation and video/sound. Nadine’s superpower is found in the intersections between creative practice and social/community change. She is the founder of Studio Coyote a mobile print shop that fostered direct action with diverse communities. She has been a print based advocate and teacher for the last 15 years.
Christopher Hauschildt, Research Administrative Coordinator
Christopher is a passionate activist who believes that access to mental health, housing, and alleviation from addiction is a human right that all deserve. He feels blessed to be able to use his lived experience to help foster a better future for those who struggle.
Sophia Katsanikakis, Communications Coordinator
Sophia is committed to finding justice for people whose lives have, like her own, been impacted by mental health issues and addiction. Through her recovery she has found joy and purpose in helping others.
Galen Rigter, Outreach Worker
Galen has been involved in Walk With Me since the outset. His commitment to enabling community and social change around the overdose crisis is palpable, and has helped to fuel the vision of this project. Galen is also an outreach worker at AVI Health and Community Services, and holds strong connections with many of the project participants.
Holly Taylor, Outreach Worker
Holly is a fierce advocate for social change as related to the overdose crisis. Holly has worked as an outreach worker in the Comox Valley for many years through AVI Health and Community Services, and brings to the project a deep respect and commitment to the people whose stories are shared.
News Stories and Coverage
Shaw Community Link Episode: Walk With Me
Comox Valley Community Foundation Funds Walk With Me Project at North Island College: Comox Valley Record
Off The Page Podcast: Walk With Me
Minister of mental health and addictions among participants at Walk With Me event
Walk With Me shows human side of toxic drug crisis