HaRT is a collective of people working at UBCO and throughout the Okanagan to promote substance use harm reduction. Oversight for HaRT is provided through UBCO, Interior Health, and the BC Centre on Substance Use. At UBCO, the Campus Health department oversees a team of students who research, promote, create, and deliver various harm reduction services (e.g., drug-checking, workshops, smoking cessation) on campus. To find out more about all the work Campus Health does, you can visit their website
here. Additionally, HaRT has folks hired by Interior Health, who provide drug-checking 3 days/week in the Okanagan. The students hired by UBCO and the folks hired by Interior Health work collaboratively to make up HaRT. HaRT also works with the BC Centre on Substance Use to ensure their work is aligned with provincial best practice guidelines for harm reduction and drug-checking. To facilitate drug-checking, numerous community organizations provide support and office space: Interior Health Mental Health and Substance use sites in Vernon and Penticton, Living Positive Resource Centre in Kelowna, Cammy LaFleur street outreach in Vernon, and South Okanagan Women in Need Society in Penticton. Importantly, the work of HaRT and their partners is informed by and prioritizes the lived experience of people who use drugs. Meet the Team:
Dr. Joan Bottorff Director, Institute for Healthy Living and Chronic Disease Prevention
Dr. Roger Wilson, Director, Health and Wellness UBC Okanagan
Interior Health Harm Reduction Coordinators
British Columbia Center on Substance Use
Interior Health Drug Checking Technicians:
Lauren Airth, (she/her) RN BSN MSN Campus Health Specialist Doctoral Student in Nursing When we started HaRT we began working in the community immediately, to prevent overdoses however we could. For me, that evolved into a passion for connecting community organizations and peers with practical resources related to substance use harm reduction. The more I get to know the folx most impacted by this toxic drug supply epidemic, the more invested I feel, and determined to bring change. When I’m not working and studying, I love to be outside! Apparently I should also warn people I’m rather short, and my dog (not the one pictured here) is bigger than me!
Sean Garden, (he/him) BSN RN Masters of Science in Nursing Student I am a registered nurse who has always had a passion for harm reduction. I believe everyone has the right to make an informed decision regarding their health while still maintaining their autonomy. Through the drug checking team with HaRT I am happy to lend a valuable service to my community. Fun fact: I have an amazing smile, which sadly, but sadly is hidden behind a mask most of the time these days. 😦
Adrian Van de Mosselaer (he/him) Bachelor of Science in Nursing Student I want to further my understanding of how the effects of trauma and mental health affect addiction. Harm reduction matters to me knowing that substance use affects all walks of life and their families. I am looking forward to the opportunity to help to destigmatize substance use so that people feel more comfortable seeking assistance. A little fun fact about me is that I really enjoy being a beekeeper in my spare time.
Work Study Students:
Jon Kirsch (he/him) Bachelor of Science in Nursing Student My goal with the harm reduction team is to meet people where they’re at, to reduce stigma around substance use and provide people with resources and support around substance use. Harm reduction matters to me because I believe that we should all be supported with compassion, understanding and empowered to make our own decisions free of judgement. Fun stuff about me: I have spent 8 years as a wildland firefighter, I’m an avid climbing biker and skier, see you outside!
David Byres (he/him) Bachelors of International Relations Student My goal working on this team is to be able to share and educate people about what harm reduction is and how they can be involved in their own communities. I want to help break down the stigma around substance use, and advocate for people who use substances to get the services they need. I am so thankful for our peers who are truly the experts in how we do this work. A fun fact about me is that I spend much of my free time tasting different coffees.
Elana Wood (she/her) Bachelor of Applied Science in Electrical Engineering Student My goal working with the HaRT team is to expand my knowledge on substance use and harm reduction, I hope to understand how people of different walks of life can be best supported through substance use. I also want to discover ways I can help fill the gaps in reducing the stigma around substance use and in promoting harm reduction. The work that this team does is incredibly important to me as I believe that people should have easy access to support that benefits them.
Becky Underhill (she/her), BA Masters of Social work Student My goal after completing my MSW is to continue to work in the field of substance use and acknowledge and honour the voices of people with lived and living experience of substance use when implementing policies, programs, and services. They are the real experts. Harm reduction matters to me because I fundamentally believe that every individual, no matter their substance use history, deserves to be treated with compassion, respect, and dignity. Harm reduction empowers and walks alongside individuals without judgement. These principles are what I believe healthy communities are founded upon and why I support and continue to advocate for harm reduction. Fun fact: OK Computer by Radiohead is my favourite album of all time
Tori Bester (She/Her) Bachelor of Science in Nursing Student My hope with joining HaRT is to gain a better understanding of harm reduction and be able to understand substance use better. I believe it is important to reduce the stigma that surrounds harm reduction and substance use therefore joining HaRT was a no brainer for me. My plan once I have completed my nursing degree is to be able to further myself in this type of work and continue to work with those who also share my passion on harm reduction. A little about me: I have a toy australian shepherd named Daisy and I am a travel enthusiast.