Indigenous Harm Reduction


Harm reduction for substance use is an approach to keep people who use substances safer, whether or not they continue to use substances. A harm reduction approach includes compassionate attitudes and actions by family members, community members and health workers. Some harm reduction strategies include naloxone training, sterile syringes and pipes, safe consumption and overdose prevention sites (OPS), opioid agonist therapy (OAT), and low-barrier housing.

Indigenous harm reduction is more than this, however. It goes beyond keeping people safer while using substances. Indigenous harm reduction means undoing the harms of colonialism, which place Indigenous people – First Nations, Métis and Inuit – at higher risk of harmful substance use. This means a decolonized, Indigenized approach to harm reduction that re-connects people to culture, and rebuilds relationships with the interconnected spiritual, human and natural worlds. 

Connecting to Culture

The 'Connecting to Culture' video series includes three videos. The videos are teaching tools intended to support discussions in First Nations communities about harm reduction, substance use and stigma. The series uses an Indigenous lens and includes the perspectives of Elders, peers and youth. 

Increase the Support. Reduce the Harm.

The 'Increase the Support. Reduce the Harm.' video series includes 11 two-minute videos featuring First Nations people with lived experience talking about harm reduction and the impact of toxic drugs in their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

Anti-Stigma Video Shorts 

The 'Protect Lives. Prevent Overdose.' video series includes nine 20-second videos featuring the voices of First Nations and Metis individuals talking about stigma and the impacts of stigma on health. Stigma around drug use can be harmful; it may even lead to death because shamed people are usually reluctant to discuss their challenges with substance use or seek medical help.

A Harm Reduction Approach to Supporting People in your Life who use Substances

This series features the FNHA's Dr. Nel Wieman and harm reduction consultant Len Pierre discussing various topics, such as having compassionate conversations, how to support loved ones, abstinence versus harm reduction, and understanding why people use substances. Watch eight short videos or listen to one 30-minute podcast.

Taking Care of Each Other

The 'Taking Care of Each Other' video series are teaching videos about Indigenous harm reduction featuring Indigenous people that work in harm reduction. There are four five-minute videos in the series:

Talking about Substance Use