april 24th 2012

Today I attended a workshop which had been going on for the entire day yesterday and this morning about harm reduction. I was first introduced to this concept working with the Youth Injection Prevention project almost 3 years ago now. During my time on the Prevention team I learned a lot about what makes youth chose to abstain from injecting drugs and the purpose of gaining that information was so that we could capture the essence of their resiliency and influence policy to create or modify programs and services accordingly. This was very relevant to what Mr. Marcus Day was speaking to at the workshop he held today about harm reduction so I felt like I was really catching on and understanding what was being said for the most part.

So my job at the workshop was to have one on one interviews with some of the participants. I set up the camera in the hallway with the best lighting and took my time. I wanted to make sure that the interviewees felt comfortable so I asked them if they were okay before I started. Because I wasn’t present during the first day of the workshop I wasn’t a 100 per cent filled in on their responses to my questions but I did my best. My questions were basically ” How did you like the workshop” “What did you learn” “Was it useful” … just questions like that.

My favorite response was from a man who said that he felt the workshop was working to facilitate a potential paradigm shift within the minds of the attendees. That we could all begin to look at things in a different way and subsequently deal with issues in more holistic ways. For instance he no longer will refer to persons using drugs with terms such as ‘crack head’ and so on. A couple people said where as they have been working so hard to PREVENT drug use, harm reduction is something totally different which pertains to the use of language I spoke to earlier that its not about good or bad, right or wrong, crack head or not crack head people will make choices but how can we give them the knowledge to inform their choices and so on. Because really how much is it your free choice if you don’t what your choosing or why. People were extremely enthusiastic about Mr Marcus Day and I could see why he was very charismatic and made for an excellent workshop facilitator. At the end of the workshop I had a chance to interview the man himself and learned that he is one of the founding people of CVC. What a cool man let me tell you…

I swear on a different note though… People always make stereotypes about First Nations in Canada saying oh we chose to live poor and unhealthy. We chose to be homeless or on drugs but no matter what anyone says I still believe that these choices are made for us when we aren’t BORN with the kinds of privlidge that promotes prosperity and what not…

Ive been beating this horse for so many years and just to play devils advocate I will say that I do believe its time for natives to put the past in the past but as a the famous Jamaican Marcus Garvey once said “A people without knowledge of their cultural history is like a tree without roots.”

But yeah we need to start reveling in our regrowth as people and as communities. This is completely off topic from where we began but this is how it ended up.


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