Atlantic Regional Meeting: Opening Doors to Care for People Who Use Drugs

This regional meeting was part of our effort to expand access to quality care for people who use drugs, including client-centred OAT and safer supply programs in the Atlantic Region. We explored how to develop a “made for Atlantic Canada approach” to providing a continuum of care that meets the diverse needs of people in our communities through plenary and small-group sessions. Additionally, there were opportunities for informal discussions and networking.

This event was hosted by the NSS-CoP in collaboration with the Substance User Network of the Atlantic Region (SUNAR) and Direction 180.

Who we are

The National Safer Supply Community of Practice (NSS-CoP) is a knowledge exchange initiative led by London InterCommunity Health Centre, in partnership with the Canadian Association of People who Use Drugs and the Alliance for Healthier Communities. The goal of the NSS-CoP is to scale up safer supply programs across Canada.

Who attended

Reflecting the breadth of our Community of Practice, we had a highly interdisciplinary group of 64 speakers, moderators, facilitators, volunteers, and participants, offering everyone the opportunity to interact with people with many different experiences of safer supply.

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Sessions and Resources

How People Who Use Drugs were involved


Sessions and Resources

Opening and Welcome

  • Elder Debbie Eisan, Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre
  • Rebecca Penn, Project Manager, National Safer Supply Community of Practice
  • Paula Martin, Program Manager, Direction 180
  • Colton Purchase, Regional Peer Lead, SUNAR

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Armchair Roundtable Discussion - Opening doors to Care for People Who Use Drugs


  • Katie Upham, Harm Reduction Educator, Substance User Network of the Atlantic Region (SUNAR)
  • Giulia di Giorgio, Founder of Cape Breton Association of People Empowering Drug Users (CAPED), Undoing the Harm Project Director, Project Manager of MySafe Cape Breton
  • Emily Wadden, Program Manager, Safe Works Access Program (SWAP), AIDS Committee of Newfoundland and Labrador

Moderator: Emily Bodechon, Atlantic Director, Moms Stop the Harm

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Presentation - Evidence on Safer Supply


  • Dr. Andrea Sereda, Safer Supply Prescriber, London InterCommunity Health Centre, Presentation Slides
  • Dr. Gillian Kolla, Research Fellow, Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, University of Victoria, Presentation Slides
  • Dr. Sara Davidson, Medical Director, River Stone Recovery Centre, Presentation Slides
  • Carl Lyons, iOAT Participant, River Stone Recovery Centre
  • Dr. Tommy Brothers, Resident Physician, Department of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Presentation Slides
  • Dr. Michael Gniewek, Physician, Direction 180, Mobile Outreach Street Health (MOSH)
  • Dr. Leah Genge, Physician, Mobile Outreach Street Health (MOSH)

Moderator: Matthew Bonn, Program Manager, Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs (CAPUD)

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Facilitated Discussions and Reporting Back

Interdisciplinary groups discussed three questions:

  • Rural and Remote: How can we facilitate and strengthen access to care and reduce barriers for PWUD in rural and remote areas? Report back (PDF)
  • Barriers and Facilitators:  In Atlantic Canada, what facilitates or prevents safer supply and OAT prescribing for clinicians? What facilitates or prevents safer supply and OAT care for PWUD? Report back (PDF)
  • Peer-Led Models: What could mitigate some of the barriers to non-medicalized peer-led models of safer supply? Report back (PDF)

Reporting back was facilitated by the NSS-CoP Team.

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Next Steps

Closing note by Natasha Touesnard, Executive Director, CAPUD

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How PWUD were involved

People who use drugs are experts -- that's one of our guiding principles. Accordingly, people who use drugs played significant roles in every part of this event from organizing through implementation, and were paid for their expertise.

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  • Our organizing committee members: Caroline Ploem, Katie Upham, Paula Martin, Giulia di Giorgio, Emily Wadden, Anna Moulton, Laura Miller, Emily Bodechon, Michael Gniewek, Debby Brown-Warren, Tommy Brothers, Sharon MacKenzie, Sara Davidson, Duncan Webster, Angele DesRoches, Christine Porter, Tiffany O’Donnell, Leah Genge, Julie Dingwell
  • Substance User Network of the Atlantic Region (SUNAR) and Direction 180 for their incredible collaboration and partnership throughout the planning of this event
  • Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre for allowing us to host this event in their beautiful space
  • Elder Deb for opening the space and starting our day in a good way
  • CAPUD, LIHC, and the Alliance for their organizational and logistical support
  • Atlantic Livestream Media for audio-visual and technical support
  • Rudy's Catering for catering the food, snacks, and drinks throughout the day
  • Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program
  • Community Safety SHARPS Team:
    • Krista Miller
    • Tanya Lake
    • Cyril Hatfield
    • Todd George

This conference was made possible through a financial contribution from Health Canada. The views expressed do not necessarily represent the views of Health Canada.

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