Taco dinner brings community together

Social inclusion a key takeaway from Tacos and Community Dialogue event, say organizers.

Tacos and Community Dialogue brought together individuals from a broad cross-section of Revelstoke. Event organizers say the dinner addressed social inclusion and is a key first step in beginning a community dialogue around substance use. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer.

An almost city-wide blackout wasn’t enough to prevent 130 people from attending Tacos and Community Dialogue, an event intended to bring individuals from various backgrounds together. Thanks to lighting wizard Randy Jones, the event, hosted by the Revelstoke Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Collaborative (CYMHSU) and the city of Revelstoke, went ahead as planned, with the Revelstoke Legion lit up with white strings of light.

Held Tuesday, Oct. 22, the dinner was part of the Community Dialogue on Opioid Use series of events the city is putting on through a grant from the Canadian Institute of Substance Use Research through the University of Victoria.

The dinner saw everyone from youth to educators, RCMP officers to retirees, therapists and counselors to parents, conversing while enjoying tacos. I attended the event with my 17-year-old son, Ethan, and found myself sitting across from a woman who decided to move to Revelstoke after she retired. We were soon joined by a friend of my son’s, and friend of mine who works in the mental health field. The buffet-style seating arrangement, with long rows of tables, created small hubs of conversation ranging from personal hobbies to politics and, on occasion, the topic steered towards substance use.

The Revelstoke Legion lit up with strings of light during the Tacos and Community Dialogue event on Tuesday, Oct. 22. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer.

Stacie Byrne, Revelstoke CYMHSU project lead said she has received positive feedback about the event, noting 89 per cent of respondents said they met someone new, 84 per cent said they learned someone new about someone they already knew and 40 per cent said they learned a new perspective on substance use in Revelstoke.

“That night I heard ‘What a great turn out!’ ‘What a diverse group!’ This event was really meaningful for a lot of the youth from the high school who needed this kind of connection,” Byrne said in an email to the Mountaineer.

Byrne said the takeaway from the event is that there was a lot of social inclusion, an important first step in creating a dialogue around substance use.

“Now it’s time to tackle the next step, which is to learn about substance use in Revelstoke and the diverse perspectives we hold,” she said.