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Lived Experience, Substance Use, and Person-Centered Service

Keeping the focus on lived experience, the April session looks into the current operational environment across the social, health, and justice sectos

Through our February webinar, a peer-facilitated panel kindly shared their lived experience of seeking services and support. Keeping the focus on lived experience, the April session takes a deeper look into the current operational environment across the social, health, and justice sectors.

In February, viewers heard from a peer-facilitated panel on their lived experience of seeking services and support. A common thread in the panel’s remarks was a complex and nuanced reality. Substance use can be seen as a barrier to service, as the source of legal jeopardy, as a threat to health and safety, and also as self-medication for trauma and as part of a generally healthy and “normal” life.


On April 28, we picked up on the engaging conversations had in our February session, Lived Experience – Connections & Mental Health by turning to the current operational environment across the social, health, and justice sectors. If the person is to be at the centre of service delivery and outcome objectives, how do people navigate the array of laws, rules, norms, and beliefs applied to substance use across all three sectors? How are public organizations and non-profits currently balancing the complexity of individual substance use and dependency in their service delivery? And what practical steps might be taken – or existing approaches expanded/embraced – to decrease barriers to support, recovery, and successful reintegration?


Beginning with remarks from the noted speaker and advocate Guy Felicella, an expert panel reflect on the current institutional and system landscape.



Carrie started with BC Corrections in the 90s as a probation officer in the Lower Mainland of BC. She had the chance to experience a very diverse caseload during those first years supervising adults and young people while maintaining responsibilities as a family court counsellor. As the Director of Programs and Interventions for BC Corrections since 2008, Carrie has been involved in a number of initiatives including the development of and enhancements to cognitive behavioral programs, oversight of the Integrated Transitional and Release Planning Program operating in correctional centres and collaborating with branch staff on reinforcing a trauma informed approach in their work with the individuals in the care of Corrections and with one another. Carrie lives and works by the proverb – If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.



Guy spent years in the grips of addiction and now dedicates his career and personal passion to advocating for harm reduction and removing the stigma against addiction and substance users. In addition to his career with the BCCSU, Guy commits his time to public speaking at conferences, seminars, summits, in schools, podcasts, documentaries and written articles. He educates the public and students on safer supply of drugs, decriminalization, harm reduction and treatment options. Guy is pushing barriers to address the current overdose crisis and addressing the truth behind the toxic drug supply.



In her current role, Stephanie is responsible for the oversight of the 10 provincial correctional centres located throughout the province of BC, and in Victoria at the divisional headquarters. She is supported by a strong leadership team and approximately 2000 staff who provide care for approximately 1500 incarcerated men and women. Stephanie is a lifelong public servant, with a small break in service to raise her family while working in the family business. Early in Stephanie’s career she realized she enjoyed human resource related work and began her management experience as a human resource advisor. This is where she became aware of the exciting work and amazingly dedicated staff working in BC Corrections. Prior to becoming the Provincial Director in 2014, she worked as the Deputy Provincial Director, the Assistant Deputy Warden of Staffing at Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre and as a Policy and Program Analyst. Stephanie has tremendous passion for the work of the Adult Custody Division, and believes that leadership is based in action, not position. Stephanie embodies a human-centered approach to leadership, and her mantra, “it’s all about the people” is at the core of her strategic vision for the Adult Custody Division.



Catharine is currently the Co-Executive Director of RainCity Housing, an organization that focuses on providing safe, secure housing options for people who have experienced homelessness, mental health and substance use issues and other forms of marginalization. Prior to coming to RainCity, she was the local site coordinator and then the national Director for the At Home/Chez Soi research demonstration project in mental health and homelessness with the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Throughout her worklife, Catharine has prioritized program, policy and system change that is grounded in the knowledge and wisdom of people with lived experience.



UBC Department of Psychiatry

Dr. Chodkiewicz, is the Physician Program Director and Assistant Head of Psychiatry at St. Paul’s Hospital, where he has practiced inpatient psychiatry for 17 years. A large proportion of his patients suffered from concurrent addiction disorders as well as neurological and cognitive deficits from many sources including brain injury, as well as having multiple additional psychiatric illnesses such as major depressive disorder, psychotic disorders and various manifestations of post traumatic stress disorder.



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