SUBMITTED PHOTOS The two-day event took place at Port Hardy Civic Centre with eight workshops, four keynote speeches and a ceremony at Kwakiutl First Nation’s Big House.

‘Culture is Harm Reduction’: keynote speaker says at recent conference hosted by SWFC

For many attendees, the event was an eye-opener to Indigenous ways of healing.

Over 70 people from across B.C. attended Sacred Wolf Friendship Centre’s harm reduction conference on March 6-7, having listened to keynote speakers and seven facilitators who talked about ways to reduce barriers in accessing local harm reduction services. Much of what was discussed tied in First Nation culture as an integral, much-needed pathway to healing and harm reduction.

“I was amazed what a positive event it was,” Garth Holden, interim president of the centre’s board of directors, said. “The overwhelming community support – it was originally intended for frontline workers and service providers, but we had such a huge interest from the general public that we opened it up. Moving forward we are really hoping to do a similar event next year.”

“I think we learned a lot of lessons this year,” he noted, having said that this is the first event of its kind on the North Island. “With that said, it was a major success. I have had folks reaching out to the presenters, being able to make those connections. It looks like it will turn into really interesting things within the community. And that is what this kind of conference is about – bringing folks together, exchanging ideas and letting that exchange turn into new service programming and opportunities for the community.”

He also mentioned that a lot of service providers from many health organizations were often connecting with each other during intermissions.

The two-day event took place at Port Hardy Civic Centre with eight workshops, four keynote speeches and a ceremony at Kwakiutl First Nation’s Big House. For many attendees, the event was an eye-opener to Indigenous ways of healing, which is integral to harm reduction services for many First Nation communities.

Holden anticipates that, depending on funding, the centre may put on a similar conference sometime in the new year. “The feedback we’ve gotten from people about the presenters and about the content has been really affirming. A lot of folks came knowing what harm reduction was, but there were a lot of folks that came with very little understanding,” he continued, “We shared some ideas. We opened some hearts and minds. They’re not out there on their own. It’s really huge work, it’s difficult. We’re meeting people (clients) where they’re at and we’re supporting them as well as we can. From those relationships come opportunities for change. Everyone deserves support and everybody deserves to live as inclusively in the community as possible.”

Annita McPhee, who is a professional speaker, discussed lateral violence within the workplace and ways in which organizations can address it. Dr. Rif Kamil, a psychiatrist with strong connections to our local First Nation communities, also spoke on how intimately tied Indigenous culture is in addressing harm reduction.

Dr. Bernie Paulie spoke on a managed alcohol program and how they worked so far across Canada. Other speakers, like Ivan Voyageur, who’s worked as a drug and alcohol counselor for over two decades, noted that by looking through the lens of Indigenous culture both clients and service providers may understand better ways to address the growing opioid epidemic across the province.

The centre will now submit its final report in hopes of securing another grant to host a similar conference and keep the dialogue between First Nation organizations and service providers ongoing.

– Press release


Just Posted

Business for Sea Otter Eco Tours tripled in 2019

The Eco Tours season runs from May 1 to Oct. 1.

Community volleyball at PHSS

The program was formed for the community and in the hopes of getting youth off of the street.

Port McNeill Library release five-year plan

VIRL recently released its vision and operating plan for 2020 through to 2024/25.

Port Hardy awarded ‘Level 4’ recognition by Green Communities Committee

District awarded Level 4 recognition - ‘Achievement of Carbon Neutrality’.”

2019 FEDERAL ELECTION: North Island-Powell River candidates address other issues of importance

“Other than the topics already discussed, what is the most important issue in your constituency?”

B.C.’s rural paramedic program expands, with home support

Advanced care ambulance staff added for six communities

BC Ferries sees steady traffic of post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Ferries filling up fast, sailing waits at some terminals

‘Save the kids!’ Dorian survivor tells the harrowing story of his Canadian wife’s death

Family held a funeral and placed Alishia Liolli’s remains in a niche at a cemetery in Windsor, Ont.

Okanagan woman, 91, votes at advance polls despite broken hip, shoulder and wrist

Angela Maynard has voted in almost every election during her lifetime

Heiltsuk Nation open first Big House in 120 years in northern B.C.

Opening means the community now has an appropriate space for spiritual and ceremonial events

Singh says NDP would form coalition with the Liberals to stop Tories

Singh was in a Liberal-held riding Sunday afternoon in Surrey where he was pressed about his post-election intentions

‘My heart goes out to the mother’: B.C. dad reacts to stabbing death of Ontario boy

Carson Crimeni, who was also 14, was bullied relentlessly, his dad says

BC Ferries filling up fast with post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Monday anticipated to be busiest day of the weekend

The one with the ‘Friends’ photoshoot: Kelowna group recreates TV show intro

A friend’s departure prompted them to create something that really says, “I’ll be there for you”

Most Read