This initiative aims to facilitate the engagement of people with lived experience (PWLE) throughout Canada by enhancing national peer networks. Participants engage in implementation science projects and identify advocacy priorities to converge on a national set of actions to address the opioid crisis.

Working Group

BC representatives: Alex Sherstobitoff (ANKORS); Garth Mullins & Dean Wilson (BCCSU); Laura Shaver (BCCSU)
Prairie representatives:  Brandi Abele (CAPUD), Dawn Lavand (Manitoba Harm Reduction Network)
Ontario representatives: Frank Crichlow (Counterfit Harm Reduction), Sean LeBlanc (Ottawa Inner City Health), Kathy Pinheiro (Sistering), Michael Nurse (Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention)
Quebec-Atlantic representatives:  Alexandra deKiewit (CAPUD), Matt Bonn (CAPUD), Natasha Touesnard (CAPUD)

PI: Jade Boyd (BC Centre on Substance Use)

Researchers:  Kat Gallant (CRISM), Samara Mayer (BCCSU), Kelsey Speed (UBC)

Current Projects

Crackdown Podcast


The group participates in the development of podcasts with the existing Crackdown Podcast platform

The group recently co-developed Episode 23: Cop Free Future (listen here)

Dope Policy Website

The group has recently developed a multimedia website, Dope Policy, that shares member’s stories – as activists and harm reduction workers with lived and living experience – of the rewards and challenges of supporting PWUD, and the dope policies needed to create meaningful change.

Check out the website here

Covid-19 Research

Ongoing qualitative interviews with PWLE regarding their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Past Projects

Photovoice Project

Photovoice Journal

The group also published a Photovoice Journal documenting activism and key issues in their lives


The national PWLE project group completed their survey at the Stimulus Harm Reduction Conference in Edmonton in October 2018 of 50 participants on barriers faced by harm reduction service workers and created a report and infographic.

An academic article has been published:     People with Lived Expertise of Drug Use National Working Group., Abele, B., Bowser, J. et al. Having a voice and saving lives: a qualitative survey on employment impacts of people with lived experience of drug use working in harm reduction. Harm Reduct J 18, 1 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12954-020-00453-5

A recording of a webinar on the qualitative survey, led by CRISM/BCCSU researchers and PWLE and organized by Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA), is now available on CPHA’s YouTube channel, and can be found here.


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