Trauma-Informed Practice and the Opioid Crisis

Cover Opioid-TIP-Guide

Research continues to show us that many people with substance use concerns, including problems with opioid use, have current or past experiences of trauma and violence.

Trauma-informed practice is a movement or way of working that recognizes the prevalence and impact of trauma on the lives of those accessing health care and social services.

I had the great opportunity to develop this new resource on trauma-informed practice and the opioid crisis with the Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health and a lovely group of service providers, researchers, and policy makers across BC.

While the main audience for the resource is service providers – primary health care providers, hospital emergency departments, first responders, shelter workers, clinicians in the mental health and substance use fields, outreach workers, peer support workers – it might also be of interest to anyone interested in learning more about different approaches to addressing the opioid crisis, including exploring the links between physical and psychological pain.

You can download the resource from the Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health here.

Trauma Effects CEWH


Indigenous Approaches to FASD Prevention


I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work with the Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, Thunderbird Partnership Foundation, and Canada FASD Research Network on an initiative responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call-to-Action #33.

Call-to-Action #33 focuses on culturally relevant approaches to preventing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder:

“We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to recognize as a high priority the need to address and prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), and to develop, in collaboration with Aboriginal people, FASD preventive programs that can be delivered in a culturally appropriate manner.”

As one way of supporting discussion and action, these organizations have published a series of five booklets:

  1. Indigenous Mothering
  2. Wellness
  3. Reconciliation and Healing
  4. Community Action
  5. Brief Interventions with Girls and Women

These booklets are intended to be a starting place for individuals, organizations, and communities who are interested in learning how they can be involved in supporting FASD prevention in Indigenous communities in ways that are respectful of history, culturally aligned and supportive of Indigenous self-determination and cultural resurgence.

A few screenshots from inside the booklets below.

You can download the booklets from the websites of the Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation, and the Canada FASD Research Network.

SisterSpace Overdose Prevention Site in Vancouver, BC

SisterSpace cover

SisterSpace is Canada’s first and only women-only overdose prevention site. This harm reduction program opened in May 2017 in response to the opioid crisis. It is located in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and is run in partnership by Atira Women’s Resource Society, Vancouver Coastal Health, BC Housing, BC Women’s Hospital, and the Provincial Health Services Authority.

I had the opportunity to be involved with an evaluation of the program’s early beginnings and to learn about what’s working and what might be improved. The program is a great example of a harm reduction program that considers how women’s needs might differ from men’s and the role of a women-only space in creating a more accessible and safe program.

Learn more about the program in the infographic below and check out Atira’s website for links to the evaluation report and media coverage.

SisterSpace infographic_Sept 2017

Read A Little Book, Share A Little Book


Thank you to everyone who attended EMMA Talks on Feb 28th – what a great night!

I was so happy to have the opportunity to share “Blue Feather” with the audience. EMMA Talks is all about sharing ideas and connecting with people and using  words and art to make change in the world – what a great crowd to share this particular book with.

Lots of people read their new little book and shared with me their responses and told me about who they intended to share their little book with next.

Share A Little Book_one page


Be sure to head over to the EMMA Talks website to see videos of the night’s speakers and check out their Instagram  for more photos from the night.


Love into Water: Stories and Poems for All Ages


Love into Water is a 64-page collection of stories and poems for kids of all ages. This self-publishing project includes stories about a few of my favorite things, including beluga whales, beets, bánh mì, birthdays, and staying in bed all day. (The title Love into Water comes from one of the stories included in the collection).

I’ll update my website with more info about where you can pick up a copy. In the meantime, here’s a look inside.