Student speaking in group discussion. Text reads: Harm Reduction on Campus. UBCO's HaRT.
Harm Reduction on Campus: UBCO’s HaRT

The Harm Reduction Team (HaRT) supports our commitment to wellbeing for people, places and the planet.

About the work

As the drug epidemic continued to surge across Canada, students expressed concerns about their well-being. They felt stigmatized for substance use, desired substance use health support, and wanted resources to be able to use substances in lower-risk ways. UBC Okanagan heard these concerns, and the Harm Reduction Team (HaRT) came from it.

In 2020, HaRT officially launched and began providing harm reduction resources (including drug-checking services) in the Okanagan, partnering with community members to promote socializing, using substances, and supporting loved ones in lower-risk ways.

HaRT continues to actively work to develop resources, deliver harm reduction services, and collaborate with stakeholders through equity, diversity, and inclusion. These services are not only essential, but they're also life-saving.

The impact

The impact the HaRT has made so far:

  • HaRT has provided and continues to provide support through educational efforts, sterile supplies, and drug-checking techniques.
  • HaRT's collaboration with the community is breaking down barriers when it comes to accessing harm reduction services.
  • Through Drug Checking on Campus, students reported feeling welcomed and not judged for their substance use. Students providing the service have felt empowered to find creative ways to engage in interprofessional and cross-organizational partnerships.
  • In 2020, HaRT launched and expanded several initiatives, including:
    • Online substance use support drop-ins
    • Naloxone training
    • Lower-risk substance use education
    • Provision of sterile supplies (e.g., syringes, straws)
    • Drug-checking using a spectroscopy machine (FTIR) and immunoassay strips

What people are saying

"As British Columbia continues to grapple with the toxic drug supply and record-setting drug poisoning deaths, HaRT has challenged common university approaches and assumptions. These innovations are creating exceptional real-world learning experiences for student workers as well as employees, and saving lives."

—Melissa Feddersen, Manager, Campus Wellness & Education Student Wellness