Themes include ‘culture is healing, culture is medicine,’ and the importance of listening and connecting to people who use substances
On Aug.21, the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA), in collaboration with Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), launched an awareness campaign focused on bringing attention to harm reduction, anti-stigma and grief and loss messages surrounding the toxic drug emergency.
The 'Connecting to Culture' campaign supports International Overdose Awareness Day, taking place each year on Aug. 31. Overdose Awareness Day is the world's largest annual campaign to end overdose, remember without stigma those who have died or experienced an overdose, and acknowledge the grief felt by those left behind.
Culture is medicine, culture is healing
First Nations people and communities have been disproportionately impacted by the toxic drug emergency. The FNHA wants to support communities in bringing awareness to the services and supports available to those who use substances, as well as their loved ones.
“We need to change how we think about, what we say about and how we treat people who use substances. In the midst of this sorrowful and grim situation, we need to continue to have hope. Because hope is the catalyst that will accelerate our public health response. We need to reignite the will, the energy, our intentions and actions to addressing the toxic drug crisis and significantly reduce the number of First Nations deaths and associated harms." – Dr. Nel Wieman, FNHA Acting Chief Medical Officer
Harm reduction begins with listening
The campaign involves 15 video shorts (30 to 45 seconds in length) featuring four peer support workers and people with lived experience, encouraging people to have discussions about harm reduction, substance use and stigma. Each of the speakers are Indigenous and use Indigenous harm reduction principles in their work.
The videos ask important questions, such as:
The questions are not meant to have definitive answers, but rather to start conversations, without judgement, on substance use and healing. The videos are edited from three longer teaching videos called “Connecting to Culture" that launched Dec. 5, 2022.
Harm reduction is about connection
The campaign will be sharing these videos across social media sites such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat until Sept. 21. As well, the audio from these videos will be featured on Canada's Northern Native Broadcasting radio stations in Terrace and Vancouver.
Each video concludes with a link to the harm reduction websites of FNHA (fnha.ca/harmreduction) and VCH (vch.ca/harmreduction) for those looking to find out more. The FNHA's harm reduction website has information about decriminalization, Indigenous harm reduction, Naloxone, Opioid Agonist Therapy, overdose prevention, substance use and healing, and more.