Evaluating the Vancouver Model of Decriminalization
Why Using Discriminatory Language to Say Only “Addicts” Can Help Themselves is Dangerous
“You’ve Done Your Time in the Trenches”
On the Intersection of Transness, Substance Use, and a Broken Healthcare System
36.4 degrees Celsius
Enduring Prolonged Grief
Even just by listening, harm reduction workers can improve mental health among people who use drugs
To what extent do supervised consumption services allow oral, intranasal, and inhaled drug use?
Dirty little secrets
i cannot hold the ocean in my hands, though i’ve tried
A Safe Place to Use
Harm Reduction in shelters is a no brainer and will save and change lives
Drug Use for Grown Ups: A Conversation between Stephanie and Dr. Carl Hart’s Latest Book
The power of peers in the establishment of supervised injection sites
Alexe is a registered social worker with the AIDS Committee of Newfoundland and Labrador. Alexe has been working within the ACNL organization for over four years, and has worked in her project coordinator role for 2.5 years. The Harm Reduction Education Project supports ACNL’s prevention initiatives, which aim to reduce HIV and HCV risks related to people who use drugs. In addition to this, Alexe is involved with the Safe Works Access Program (needle exchange program), is a lead kit contact with the Naloxone Take Home Kit program, and conducts harm reduction, overdose prevention and Safe Works Access Program education across the province (She/Her).
Andre is a CAPUD member and passionate member of the harm reduction community. He has written on issues related to housing, marginalization, drug use, and the many terrible outcomes of drug prohibition. He holds both undergraduate and master’s degrees in environmental studies from York University with a specialization in urban planning.
Emilie is a second-year medical student from Halifax, Nova Scotia with an interest in harm reduction and addiction medicine. Before medical school, she completed an MSc in Immunology & Infectious Diseases (She/Her).
Shane is a fourth-year Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) student at Memorial University. Over the past year, Shane worked at the AIDS Committee of Newfoundland and Labrador in various capacities and roles and most recently worked as their Education Program Assistant, delivering crucial HIV, Hepatitis C and harm reduction education to service providers, students, and the community. Shane hopes to continue his social work practice in the community, working and supporting people who use drugs and reflecting a harm reduction approach. Shane believes the individuals he works with deserve agency, respect, safety, and compassion (He/Him).
Holly is a Registered Nurse from Saint John; NB with a practice grounded in the philosophy of harm reduction. She is an avid harm reduction advocate in her community, with experience working with people who use drugs in the acute care, correctional, and community settings. (She/Her)
Mark is a well known local Halifax DJ. Mark isn’t just a musician but he’s a show promoter, brand developer, and soon to be certified graphic designer. He’s been in the EDM scene for over 15 years, performing and running hundreds if not thousands of events, which has always had a focus on diversity and inclusivity. Mark one was of the DJ’s that brought the philosophy of harm reduction in Atlantic Canada (He/Him).
David recently earned his PhD from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York in Sociology, and is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at New York University’s Behavioral and Science Training in Substance Use Research program. He uses primarily qualitative methods to examine substance use and treatment issues in the context of criminalization and the War on Drugs. His work focuses in particular on how biomedical narratives of addiction are often deployed as a way of obscuring the role of structural forces, like policy and law, in behaviors thought to be caused by drug use.
Assaf is an undergraduate student at Concordia University. He is a member of CSSDP Concordia, and is interested in municipal and federal politics. He advocates for evidence driven drug policy reform in Canada, which is why he believes in the decriminalization of all drugs.
Kira aims to connect research, policy and grassroots organizing to further sensible drug policy. As a PhD student at the Université de Montréal, she studies weed use and mental health in sexually and gender diverse youth. Kira chairs the national board of Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (CSSDP) and works locally with CSSDP Tiohtià:ke/Montréal and VoxCann, a youth-led cannabis education initiative.
After being sponsored by the Dr. Peter Centre and graduating from the community capacity diploma program at Simon Fraser University, Daniel worked as a Peer Research Associate on the Dr. Peter Centre study. He also worked on the Homes at Howe study with Pacific AIDS Network. He is currently on the review board at the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and on the Dr. Peter Centre Community Advisory Committee.
Natalie Kaminski resides in Peel Region where they work in harm reduction and founded the Peel Drug Users Network. Previously residing in London Ontario they became embedded in poverty and experienced systemic violence being a person who; uses drugs, sold sex and had history of incarceration. Most of Natalie’s friends from that period of their life however are either; missing, murdered or dead. Natalie is a white settler on turtle island and remains committed in their various roles; including mother, to dismantle the patriarchal & racist systems that uphold and influence the policies that kill the people they love.
Kelsey is the Senior Program Lead with the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta and the Inner City Health and Wellness Program (ICHWP) at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. Kelsey received a Master of Science in Public Health and Health Systems from the University of Waterloo in 2016. She is currently conducting research on harm reduction programs in acute care settings and in the community, and works with ICHWP’s community partners to support people who use drugs in improving their health and wellbeing.
Nicole is a Master of Science student in Health Policy Research at the University of Alberta’s School of Public Health and Research Assistant with the Inner City Health and Wellness Program at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. Her interests include structural factors that impact the health and social outcomes of people who use drugs, harm reduction, and health services and policy research.
Dr. Elaine Hyshka is an Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management at the University of Alberta’s School of Public Health and the Scientific Director of the Inner City Health and Wellness Program at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. Her program of applied health services and policy research focuses on advancing a public health approach to substance use, and her work is conducted in partnership with health and social service providers, public health advocacy organizations, and governments at the local, provincial, and national level.
Ivy (she/her) is a mid-20’s white trans woman living on unceded Coast Salish territory (so-called vancouver). Previously known for her writing on gender identity and her trans-positive art, she now spends her time organizing, making music, and learning how to love herself again.
Doug Johnson is a writer, editor and journalist whose work has appeared in Filter-Magazine, National Geographic, Undark Magazine, New Scientist and Hakai, among others. He lives in Alberta, Canada.
Twitter Handle: @DougCJohnson
I have held two careers that provide learnings in love. Massage Therapy and Group facilitation.
But my true career has not been employment. My true mission began while listening to an inspirational lecture about love. It began when I heard of a suicide note. The note ended with, “If one person smiles at me (on the way to the bridge), no one will see this suicide note”. One smile! ONE PERSON… Since that time, it has been my mission to be that person. With every glance, every smile I might just be changing the whole world. I became a lifelong learner, in the study of love. It’s been 47 years; I conclude that with love, no matter where I am on this path, I am always just beginning.
I suspect that repeated thoughts manifest in physical form. “Loves Learning” begins with an affirmation, first person present tense. In this way I reinvent my future day by day.
My life is blessed, because I choose it to be so.
Alex McVean is a harm reduction and drug policy activist with living experience from Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada. He is Social Media and Communications Manager for Bluelight.org and a member of The Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs (CAPUD).
Cesar Ramirez is an undergraduate student at McGill University studying Sociology and International Development Studies. While living in Vancouver, he was exposed to the realities of the overdose crisis and the failures of drug prohibition and the War on Drugs. Since then, he has been committed to better understanding addiction and promoting effective alternative drug policies.
Would you like to make a contribution? Contact us below.
Based in Tiohtià:ke (Montréal, Québec), Alexandra [she/her] is a recent graduate of the Master of Social Work program at McGill University. As a current staff member of the Canadian Association of People who Use Drugs (CAPUD), she works as a Knowledge Mobilization Expert for the National Safer Supply Community of Practice (NSS-CoP). She also serves as the Chapter Liaison of the National Board of the Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (CSSDP) and as a writer, editor, translator, and social media and communications lead for The Drug Hub. In addition to these roles, she works as a translator for several harm reduction projects across the country. As a person with living expertise of drug use, she is passionate about harm reduction, drug policy, decriminalization, and abolition.
Based in Skwxwú7mesh , xʷməθkwəy̓əm , and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh territory (aka Vancouver, BC) Clem (He/Him) is a registered clinical counsellor and knowledge translator at Dr. Peter Center. Clem has a combined 15 years of experience in housing support, outreach in DTES community and compassionate care for people living with HIV. He is a contributor to UPHNS community of practice and co-facilitator of harm reduction and trauma-informed care trainings. A passionate harm reduction advocate and social justice activist.
Based in lək̓ʷəŋən and W̱SÁNEĆ territory (Victoria, BC), Corey [he/him] is a registered nurse and clinical nurse lead for the Victoria SAFER Initiative—he is also a board of directors for the HIV Legal Network and cofounder of Westside Harm Reduction.
Currently living in Tiohtià:ke (Montréal, Québec), Frankie Lambert (he/they) is the communication officer at L’Association Québécoise pour la promotion de la santé des personnes utilisatrices de drogues (AQPSUD). A provincial organization that brings together people who use drugs and who aspire to promote their health, prevent sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections, and improve their living conditions. As a person of color, drug user and former sex worker, Frankie lives by the philosophy of harm reduction and transformative justice. He also has a passion for decriminalization and activism.
Currently resides in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq people. He is the program coordinator with the Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs, a National Board member with Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and a knowledge translator for the Dr. Peters Centre. His freelance writing has appeared in publications including Policy Options, The Conversation, CATIE and The Coast. He is also a Canadian Editorial Consultant for Filter – Magazine based out of New York. He is a current drug user and a formerly incarcerated person.
Based in Skwxwú7mesh , xʷməθkwəy̓əm , and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh territory (aka Vancouver, BC), Patrick has been working in the field of HIV and harm reduction since 2008. Originally from Halifax, Patrick moved to Vancouver in 2010 and works at the Dr. Peter Centre, which provides care and support services to people living with HIV. Patrick facilitates a Canadian supervised consumption / overdose prevention site service providers video call. He also serves as the co-chair for the Pacific AIDS Network’s board of directors.
Spent the last 14 years working as a nurse in community health, infectious disease, clinical education and shelter/street outreach programs practicing a harm reduction philosophy of care. Rachael is currently pursuing a Master of Public Health through the University of Victoria.
Currently residing on lək̓ʷəŋən territory (Victoria, BC), Stephanie (She/Her) is passionate about health equity, decriminalization, and harm reduction informed drug policy. She is working towards her Master’s of Science in the Social Dimensions of Health program at the University of Victoria, her thesis is focussed on Ontario’s safe injection facility policy under the Ford government.
dylan (they/elle) is a queer artist, front line worker, and settler working and living in Tio’tia: ke / Mooniyang / Montréal. they are a writer for L’Injecteur at L’Association Québécoise pour la promotion de la santé des personnes utilisatrices de drogues (AQPSUD). benni uses their lived experience with drug use and PTSD to advocate for harm reduction and meaningful participation of people who use drugs in policy and practice. they run support groups that centre people who use drugs in their community as alternatives to abstinence based groups and overdose grief groups. they have made art for several years including for Stimulus: Drugs, Policy, and Practice, Quebec Harm Reduction Conference, AQPSUD, made a project by and for people who use drugs to raise funds for Toronto Overdose Prevention Society, and collaborated with harm reduction organizations to make overdose memorials across Canada during the overdose crisis.
Based in Skwxwú7mesh , xʷməθkwəy̓əm , and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh territory (aka Vancouver, BC), Savannah Swann (she/her) is the Knowledge Translation and Evaluation Officer at the Dr. Peter Centre. She has experience in community-based participatory research in the fields of Indigenous wellness and student mental health. Savannah is a crisis responder at the Fraser Health Crisis Line and a member of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee at Options Community Services.
Welcome to The Drug Hub (formerly the “Urgent Public Health Need Sites [UPHNS] Community of Practice HUB Blog”).
We are a pan-Canadian collective of harm reductionists, drug policy activists, and people who use(d) drugs. We aim to translate evidence-based knowledge and experiences in a relatable and compassionate way while acknowledging the importance that this information represents as lives are being lost amid the ongoing and intersecting global COVID-19 pandemic and toxic drug supply crisis.
Our mission is to raise the voices of people who are and have been criminalized and marginalized because of their drug use and social locations/identities. This is a space for our community to share stories and offer personal commentary related to, but not limited to: drug use, harm reduction, drug policy, service provision, trauma-informed care, and concurrent disorders.
The Drug Hub editorial team is made up of people who use(d) drugs, students, researchers, and healthcare professionals who work with marginalized and criminalized communities. While we welcome all contributors, we are especially seeking contributions from students and people with living/lived expertise of drug use, homelessness, trauma, mental health, and any other experiences pertinent to overdose prevention sites, safe consumption sites, and other public health sites and services serving urgent community needs.
We believe in fairly compensating people for their expertise. Contributors with living/lived expertise of drug use and active students receive a $100 stipend per accepted submission, sent via e-transfer.
Disclaimer: The Drug Hub uses Google services such as Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Docs to communicate, edit, translate, and publish. All accepted submissions will be uploaded onto our Google Drive and edited online by The Drug Hub Editorial Team. If you would prefer for us to find another platform to communicate and edit, please let us know in your first email, and we will find a solution.
This initiative is funded by Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addiction Program. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of Health Canada.
© Copyright Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation All rights reserved.