Join us for our webinar series as we discuss current and emerging topics in substance use. This series is primarily intended for professionals working to protect and promote the health, wellness, and safety of people who use substances.
If you have suggestions for topics you’d like to learn more about, share them with us using our Contact Us page.
In April 2022, the Canadian Public Health Association and the Canadian Substance Use Resource and Knowledge Exchange Centre (SURE) presented a panel discussion entitled ‘Beyond Stigma’. The webinar centered around the Subject Matter Health Research Lab’s 2022 animated video ‘Beyond Stigma’, and featured a conversation with some of the videos creators on the realities and impacts of opioid related stigma, and ways that we can move beyond it. This is part of CPHA’s Substance Use Webinar Series.
Kirsten Dixon (she/her) graduated from the School of Medicine at Queen’s University in 2006 and completed her residency in Family Medicine through St. Michael’s Hospital at the University of Toronto. Dr. Dixon’s clinical work is focused on the care of people experiencing homelessness, mental illness and substance use disorders. She works with a shelter-based outreach team through the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and was the Lead Physician with Inner City Health Associates for Seaton House men’s shelter from 2017 to 2020. Since 2015, Dr. Dixon has worked with the Safer Opioid Prescribing Program at the University of Toronto on course development and facilitation. She is dedicated to enhancing education on opioid use disorder and to improving the quality of care delivered to people who use opioids.
Sean LeBlanc (he/him) left an abusive home situation in the Maritimes at age 13 and eventually put himself into university where the loss of his pregnant partner started a decade long run of addiction and homelessness. Sick and tired of being sick and tired he used his stubbornness and desire for positive change to eventually found a non-profit to advocate for drug users in Ottawa called DUAL, the Drug User Advocacy League in 2010. He spent years as a front line worker at Ottawa Inner City Health, and is now a Research Assistant and consultant with Mount Sinai, St Mike’s and a proud CAPUD (Canadian Association of People who Use Drugs) and ONPUD (Ontario Network of People who Use Drugs) board member. He is a huge Red Sox fan, and loves punk rock, harm reduction, bass guitar and his partner Catherine.
Kristan Ellis-MacDonald (she/her) is a Family Nurse Practitioner in the First Nations community of Wagmatcook located in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, where she has practiced for 3 years. Prior to this role, Kristan greatly enjoyed working as an NP in a rural community located in Northern British Columbia where a large part of her patients were of First Nations ancestry. Prior to her career as an NP, she worked as a Registered Nurse and specialized in vascular, general surgical, neurosurgical, and critical care ICU in Halifax, Nova Scotia. After being away from home for so long, she is happy to be back working where she was raised in Cape Breton and grateful to give back to the surrounding communities.
Abhimanyu Sud (he/him) is a family physician based in Toronto, Ontario. He is an Assistant Professor at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto and Research Chair of Primary Care & Population Health Systems at Humber River Hospital. His clinical, research, education, and advocacy focuses around the intersections of chronic pain, mental illness, and opioid use.
In February 2021, the Harm Reduction Nurses Association and CPHA presented a webinar on proposed amendments to British Columbia’s Mental Health Act that would allow for involuntary, hospital-based stabilization care of youth following an overdose (Bill 22), and discussed the potential harms and disproportionate impacts Bill 22 could have on youth and ethical issues associated with detention-based treatment. This follow-up panel discussion broadened the discussion to include additional perspectives from youth, families, advocates and academics. The presentations and discussion highlighted a range of perspectives on involuntary stabilization care and shared insights on efforts to support youth who use drugs.
Laura Johnston (she/her) is a lawyer who has worked primarily in the areas of mental health law and human rights, representing clients with many different forms of mental disabilities and substance use issues. She is currently the Legal Director of Health Justice, a non-profit organization that conducts research, education, and advocacy to improve the laws and policies that govern coercive health care in BC. Laura teaches Mental Health Law in the faculties of law at the University of British Columbia and at the University of Victoria and frequently provides education to legal and medical professionals.
Jessica Key (she/her) is a citizen of the Musgamagw Dzawada̱’enux̱w Nations. She works as a registered nurse towards anti-racist health care and to improve the health care outcomes for Indigenous people accessing care in hospitals. She has a clinical background working with youth with concurrent mental health and substance use challenges. She is also a graduate student in the Master of Science in Nursing program at the University of British Columbia where her research area is Indigenous cultural safety in acute mental health settings, particularly regarding Indigenous youth. Jessica is a founding director of Akala Outdoor Education Society which develops and delivers outdoor education opportunities for youth with a focus on cultural and community connections. Jessica’s nursing practice is rooted in cultural safety, antiracism, and social justice.
Petra Schulz (she/her) lost her 25-year-old son, Danny, to accidental fentanyl poisoning in 2014. She is one of the co-founders of Moms Stop the Harm, a network of Canadian families impacted by substance-use related harms and deaths. Through the lessons learned from her personal experience and by sharing Danny's story, Petra has become an advocate for drug policy reform to reduce the harm associated with substance use. She believes that substance use is a matter involving human rights and health and must not be criminalized. Petra represents families with lived experience in Health Canada and CCSA advisory committees. She has been a speaker for TedX at MacEwan University, at conferences, community meetings, professional organizations, universities, and all government levels. She contributed to the anti-stigma campaign, "See-Beyond" and a research project on mother's advocacy.
Kali Sedgemore (they/them) is peer worker who wears many hats. They are president of Coalition of peers dismantling the drug war (CPDDW). They advocate & fight for drug policy accessibility, particularly for youth specific harm reduction services and education, and fighting to stop bill 22-safe (involuntary) care act from passing into law. Kali is a strong believer in Harm Reduction, drug user rights specifically stimulant users getting voice heard. They believe in a community driving safe supply similar to the events we (CPDDW-DULF) have done a few times now.
In advance of this webinar, we recommend watching our first webinar on this topic, 'Involuntary Stabilization Care of Youth Who Overdose: More Harm than Good (Part 1)', available here.
The Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA), in collaboration with the Sexuality Education and Resource Centre, Moyo Health and Community Services and Centre for Sexuality, hosted a webinar for public health professionals focused on the need to better serve lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and Two Spirit (LGBTQ2S+) communities, and considerations for developing organizational spaces where diverse LGBTQ2S+ community members feel valued, affirmed, welcomed and celebrated for their sexual and gender identities.
There is an urgent need to address the devastating losses associated with the current drug-poisoning emergency in Canada. To that end, our presenters undertook a concept mapping study to obtain the perspectives of service users on key elements of effective safer supply programs. This webinar presented a model of safer supply informed by people who use drugs and included recommendations for programmatic and systemic changes.
Fred Cameron is the Operations Coordinator and Harm Reduction Manager with SOLID Outreach Society. He has extensive experience as a community researcher with the Canadian institute for Substance Use Research. He is a member of BC Strategies for Patient Oriented Research (SPOR) Patient Council He is an author and writer who has published on patient oriented research and peer led interventions as well as other current issues in local and regional magazines. In addition to working with SOLID, he is completing a degree in social work.
Bernie Pauly is a Professor in the School of Nursing, a Scientist at the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research and a University of Victoria Community Engaged Scholar. She is the current Island Health Scholar in Residence, a position she has head since 2016. Her research focuses on reducing health inequities in the context of substance use and homelessness and promoting health equity through more equitable health systems and services. She has been a research collaborator with SOLID Outreach and AVI Health and Community Services for more than 15 years. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards including a recent BC Health Employers Association Dianna Mah Jones Award for Excellence in Person Centred Care.
In this presentation, we looked more closely at how community based cannabis distribution programs influence access and feasibility of cannabis as a "substitution" or harm reduction tool by drawing on in-depth qualitative research from 2018-19. While the potential utility of cannabis as a harm reduction tool continues to be debated in the scientific literature, less focus has been placed on compassionate access and attending to barriers around access, particularly for individuals who are marginally housed or those experiencing homelessness. Additionally, this presentation discussed how these programs may be filling a gap, where individuals reported instrumental uses and qualifying medical conditions, but are largely excluded from the legal market. As a critical low barrier option for many living in the DTES, we considered the importance of these low barrier, novel strategies that may support, prevent and reduce harmful drug use. Finally, this presentation shared some themes around how cannabis was being utilized by people who use drugs, centralizing their perspectives regarding the use of cannabis for harm reduction.
Jenna Valleriani is currently Director of Patient Advocacy on the Social Purpose and Advocacy team at Canopy Growth. Prior to this, she was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of British Columbia, Faculty of Medicine and BC Centre on Substance Use on the Qualitative and Community Based Research team. Her research looked at the use of cannabis among people who use drugs as a harm reduction strategy to reduce or manage other illicit substance use, and legal access to cannabis. She received her PhD from the University of Toronto in 2017, and her dissertation focused on the emerging commercial cannabis market, and the role of activist and illicit medical cannabis dispensary operators in that transition. Previously, she was also the CEO of the National Institute for Cannabis Health and Education (NICHE), a not-for-profit established to support the development of public policy and research, and continues to work as a Strategic Advisor with Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy.
The involvement of people who use drugs working in harm reduction has been a significant and expanding component of overdose prevention interventions across the nation. While such initiatives have proven effective in decreasing drug-related harms among PWUD, there exist unintended negative impacts. In 2018, at the National 2018 Stimulus conference held in Edmonton, Alberta, 50 qualitative surveys were completed by people with lived expertise (PWLE) of drug use working in harm reduction from across Canada. The surveys focused on the benefits and negatives of “peer” employment and recommendations for organizational transformation. In this webinar, the CRISM PWLE of Drug Use working group presented on the survey’s findings, while discussing their own experiences working in harm reduction.
Sean LeBlanc was born in Nova Scotia and arrived in Ottawa in 2000. Sean has survived an opioid dependency, homelessness and incarceration. After facing adversity he founded the Drug Users Advocacy League in 2010. Sean was later the co-Principal Investigator of the PROUD Study: Participatory Research in Ottawa Understanding Drugs -at the time the largest community cohort study in Ontario. Sean is dedicated to improving the quality of lives of people who use drugs. Sean loves his long term partner Catherine, and being from the Maritimes.
Michael Nurse resides in Toronto. He is an elder and a father of two adult sons and an adult daughter. Michael works in Toronto delivering harm reduction-guided support to people who are experiencing challenges related to the use of psychoactive substances.
Alexandra de Kiewit worked for five years at Association Québécoise pour la promotion de la santé des personnes utilisatrices de drogues (AQPSUD). She now works at Cactus' supervised injection site and is a facilitator for PLDI (Positive Leadership Development Institute) in Quebec.
Frank Crichlow has been a harm reduction worker for over 12 years with COUNTERfit harm reduction program at South Riverdale Community Health Centre. In his role at COUNTERfit he provides both on and off-site harm reduction education, referrals and distribution. Frank works at both SRCHC’s safe consumption service (keepSIX) and volunteered with the Toronto Overdose Prevention Site at both Moss Park and Parkdale unsanctioned sites. He helped to start and still works at the Riverdale Men’s Group, a wellness program at SRCHC. Frank is a member of the Stigma & Discrimination Group, the Strategic Implementation Panel and the Drug Policy Committee of the Toronto Drug Strategy, Toronto Public Health. He is a member of the City of Toronto’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism committee. He is the Chair of the Toronto Drug Users Union and a member of the Toronto Harm Reduction Alliance and on the Board of the Canadian Association of People who Use Drugs. Frank has spoken on issues of harm reduction for a variety of audiences and venues including academic conferences, research ethics boards and community workshops.
Tamar Austin MPH, is a Research Coordinator at the BC Center on Substance Use, whose is focused on exploring the experiences of women who use drugs, labour and care. Tamar is also passionate about addressing issues of racism, gender-based discrimination and their resulting inequities.
Jade Boyd PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of British Columbia and a Research Scientist with the BC Centre on Substance Use. Her work is supported by a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research/St. Paul’s Foundation Scholar Award.
The Canadian Public Health Association and the Harm Reduction Nurses Association presented a webinar on 24 February 2021 entitled ‘Involuntary Stabilization Care of Youth Who Overdose: More Harm than Good’. As is the case across Canada, the province of British Columbia (BC) is in the midst of an overdose crisis that is having devastating impacts on youth and others who use drugs. Drawing on a published commentary with Canadian Journal of Public Health, advocacy efforts, clinical practice, and lived experience, this presentation provided an overview of BC’s recent proposal to amend the Mental Health Act and sanction involuntary, hospital-based stabilization care of youth who overdose. In the first part of the webinar, the presenters discussed three key areas for public health deliberation related to these proposed legislative changes, including (1) the evidence underpinning involuntary care, (2) ethical considerations, and (3) the potential for unintended and unevenly distributed consequences. In the second part, the presenters reviewed advocacy efforts related to this issue and explored what this turn to mental health law means for youth who use drugs and other stakeholders in BC – and potentially, nationally.
Trevor Goodyear (he/him) is a registered nurse, PhD student in the School of Nursing at the University of British Columbia, and Addiction Medicine Research Fellow with the BC Centre on Substance Use. Trevor has clinical expertise in youth mental health care, and his current work focuses on equity-oriented research with queer and trans youth who use drugs.
Marilou Gagnon (she/her) is an Associate Professor at the School of Nursing, Faculty of Human and Social Development at the University of Victoria and a Scientist at the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research (CISUR). Her work focuses on harm reduction, nursing practice, and social justice. She is the co-founder and current President of the Harm Reduction Nurses Association.
Kali Sedgemore (they/them) is a PHS Peer supervisor at MOPS (Molson OPS) & MOPU (Mobile OP unit), youth peer support, VCH Peer harm reduction leader & outreach worker, and has been a Harm Reductionist with a focus on youth harm reduction & Stimulants for nine years. Currently, they are sitting president of the Coalition of peers dismantling the drug war (CPDDW). They are indigenous and love meth.
CPHA presented a webinar on 20 January 2021 entitled 'Gender-Informed Virtual Interventions Addressing Substance Use and Intimate Partner Violence'. This webinar described technology-based approaches in substance use prevention and health promotion. It included information on how technology-based interventions can address sex, gender, and intersectional equity considerations. This webinar drew upon a scoping review on sex, gender, and substance use as well as a rapid review on interventions for intimate partner violence and substance use in the COVID-19 pandemic, both undertaken by the Centre of Excellence for Women's Health. This webinar offered ideas for how service providers, researchers, and policymakers can act on incorporating gender equity as a method for improving health outcomes.
Nancy Poole, PhD, is the Director of the Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health and the lead on a number of research and knowledge translation projects related to alcohol, other substance use, trauma informed approaches and Indigenous wellness. Nancy’s doctorate was on the topic of using virtual communities to bring multisectoral participants together to discuss and plan action on ‘wicked problems’.
Julie Stinson, MA, is the Researcher and Knowledge Exchange Coordinator at the Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health. Julie is responsible for assisting with research projects related to sex, gender, and substance use. She also manages the Centre’s online presence through the website, social media, and other knowledge exchange opportunities.
Lindsay Wolfson, MPH, is the Manager at the Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health. Lindsay is responsible for research and collaboration on projects relating to Indigenous health and wellness, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder prevention, and the integration of gender, trauma, culture, and equity-informed approaches into policy, research, and practice.
The Canadian Public Health Association presented a panel discussion on 4 November 2020 entitled 'Reflections on a Public Health Approach to Substance Use'. This webinar marked an opportunity to explore the gap between public health theory and practice, and what a public health approach should aim to achieve. This is the first in CPHA's Substance Use Webinar Series.
Gord Garner is the Executive Director of the Community Addictions Peer Support Association (CAPSA); he is a national public speaker and trainer on addressing stigma and Person First Language. He is living well with his own substance use disorder at the time of this writing. He is dedicated to removing barriers, to enable policy writers, academics, researchers and people with experience of substance use disorders active or in remission to take evidence-based actions to improve the lives of Canadians concerning substance use.
Scott Harrison is a Registered Nurse with 30 years of clinical experience focused on marginalized communities. His professional role is Executive Director for Urban Health and the Vancouver Coastal Health/Providence Health Care Integrated Substance Use programs. He is also continuing his training with an MA in Psychotherapy.
Elena Hasheminejad is an Acting Manager at York Region Public Health on the Substance Use Prevention & Harm Reduction program. Elena has over 7 years of experience working in the substance and harm reduction program, with a primary focus on the cannabis portfolio. She has had the opportunity to participate in federal and provincial consultations for cannabis legalization and regulation. Elena is also a clinical teacher at a local college teaching Community and Population Health nursing. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Nursing and a Master’s in Education.
Elaine Hyshka is currently appointed as an Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management in the University of Alberta's School of Public Health. Her research spans both health services and systems and population health pillars, and focuses on advancing a public health approach to substance use. Her program leverages her interdisciplinary background and diverse methodological experience to generate new knowledge that advances health systems innovation and improves health outcomes. Her research team has a core engaged scholarship orientation and their work is conducted from start to finish in partnership with people with lived experience of substance use, poverty, and homelessness; healthcare providers; health authorities; civil society organizations; and governments at all levels.