Harm reduction for the whole community

Humanizing Harm Reduction, a regional harm reduction conference, will be hosted here in Fort St. James/Nak'azdli from March 6 to 8.

Jonas Gagnon

Caledonia Courier

Humanizing Harm Reduction, a regional harm reduction conference, will be hosted here in Fort St. James/Nak’azdli from March 6 to 8.

The conference is designed to take a larger view of harm reduction than what normally comes to mind.

“We’ve tried to have a pretty broad focus of harm reduction. The focus is on just that, reducing harm, whether it’s seatbelts or a helmet. A lot of people, when they think of harm reduction, it’s just around safe injection sites, but harm reduction does have a bigger scope,” said Jo Anne Alexander, the Public Health Nurse at Northern Health and a member of the committee running the conference.

Several notable speakers are being brought in for this conference, such as Jill Cory, an influential author and researcher who has 28 years of experience working in the anti-violence field. Cory will be speaking on March 7 about violence against women.

Another highly anticipated speaker is Marliss Taylor, the program manager of the Streetworks program in Edmonton, where she has worked in harm reduction for 16 years, leading many community projects.

The conference is the work of a local committee made up of members from Nak’azdli Health Centre, Northern Interior Health, the Fireweed Collective, and Northern Mental Health and Addictions.

The conference will feature more than just meetings for conference attendants.

“We wanted to make sure it’s for all individuals,” said Brandi Hanterman of the Fireweed Collective, and member of the harm reduction committee.

The conference is designed to not only teach people about harm reduction but will give attendees ‘a harm reduction starter kit,’ according to Hanterman.

In that spirit the conference will have two special community presentations. These events will be open to the public, and will be free of charge.

Youth Community Outreach AIDS Society (YouthCo), a youth theatre company dedicated to education, support and advocacy for youth, will be doing live theatre on March 6 at 7:00 p.m. at Kwah Hall and again on March 7 at 7 p.m. at the Music Makers Hall. , and a screening of ‘Miss Representation’. will be showing at seven 7 p.m. on March 7, at the Historic Park Theatre.  The documentary was premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The film focuses on the misrepresentation of women in media, and how that has affected women’s roles in society.

Registration cost for this conference is $50, and fees will go towards bringing Dr. Gabor Mate, a psychologist from the downtown east-side of Vancouver up to Fort St. James to give a presentation in the Fall. Mate is a psychologist who as published four books, and given presentations across North America.

To register for this conference, please contact Jo Anne Alexa.