BC Substance Use Conference 2019

The BC Substance Use Conference 2019 is the first annual conference hosted by the BC Centre on Substance Use, bringing together key stakeholders from around the province to discuss provincial efforts to treat and care for people with substance use disorders. This three day event will include research, education, and clinical care guidance presentations and workshops across several topics within substance use including opioid, alcohol, and cannabis use disorders.


Key Speakers

Mae Katt | Mae is a member of Temagami First Nation and a Nurse Practitioner in Thunder Bay. She has had a diverse career in Primary Health Care, community mental health and addictions, maternal and child care, research and policy development. She is the Coordinator of a Treatment Team that provides opiate addiction treatment at a First Nations high school and to northern First Nation communities. Ms. Katt has also worked in senior management positions at Health Canada’s First Nations and Inuit Health (Ontario) and Nishnawbe Aski Nation.

Guy Felicella | Guy grew up in a middle class home in Richmond but fell into addiction at a young age. Guy spent 30 years in the repeated cycle of gangs, addiction, treatment and jail. He spent nearly 20 years residing in the two block radius in the Downtown Eastside and using many resources, including harm reduction, to keep himself alive. Today, Guy has escaped the grips of the turmoil that kept him suffering and resides in Surrey with his wife and two young children with multiple years of recovery and sobriety under his belt. Guy is passionate about advocating for the vulnerable people who still suffer in addiction and educating communities on harm reduction through public speaking to eliminate the stigma that exists around it. Guy has started a career with Vancouver Coastal Health in addition to attending various school districts to educate students on addiction. Guy spent nearly his entire life suffering from the disease of addiction and now he is using his experience to change the hearts and minds of people stating, “you can’t save a dead addict.”

Conference Highlight: “Psychedelics As Medicine”

Dr. Ken Tupper (Moderator) | Since 1999, Dr. Tupper has studied the potential of psychedelic plants and substances to foster innovative thinking, to evoke experiences of wonder and awe, or to recover from addictions or eating disorders, when used carefully. Today, he is the Director of Implementation & Partnerships at the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use, an Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health, and an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the School of Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria. He is also currently a member of the Clinical & Scientific Advisory Board of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies – Canada (MAPS-Canada) and the Advisory Board of the Wasiwaska Research Centre in Brazil.

Dr. Gabor Maté | A renowned speaker, and bestselling author, Dr. Gabor Maté is highly sought after for his expertise on a range of topics including addiction, stress and childhood development. For twelve years Dr. Maté worked in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside with patients challenged by hard-core drug addiction, mental illness and HIV, including at Vancouver’s Supervised Injection Site. As an author, Dr. Maté has written several bestselling books including the award-winning In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction; When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress; and Scattered Minds: A New Look at the Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder, and co-authored Hold on to Your Kids.

Dr. Nitasha Puri
| A GP whose practice is heavily focused on addiction and mental health, mostly in Vancouver’s inner city populations. She is therefore acutely aware of the effect that social determinants and health systems have on both patient and provider well-being. Dr. Puri understands the value of research in advocacy, and is currently developing her systems and policy thinking as a clinical research scholar.

Joanna Simundic RCSW, RCC
| Joanna is a Registered Clinical Social Worker and Registered Clinical Counselor. She is the sole founder, owner and psychotherapist at Embracing Change Therapy, a private practice she started in 2013 supporting individuals in processing traumatic material using a variety of techniques such as: Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing, Mindfulness, Internal Family Systems and various somatic approaches. Joanna was invited into the Vancouver MAPS team in early 2016 as one of the MAPS Therapists for the MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy Phase III Research Study. Joanna possess a wide array of experience working with trauma from her work in Medellin, Columbia working with marginalized youth, working with First Nations communities in Northern British Columbia and also supporting at risk youth in Newfoundland and Toronto.

Zach Walsh, PhD
| Zach is an Associate Professor in the UBC Department of Psychology. He attended the University of Winnipeg as an undergraduate, received a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 2008 from the Chicago Medical School/Rosalind Franklin University, and completed a clinical internship and a research fellowship at the Brown University Centre for Alcohol and Addiction Studies. Dr. Walsh is a registered clinical psychologist whose research has been supported by the Canadian Institute of Health Research, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Health Canada, BC Interior Health Authority, the Peter Wall Endowment, and the American Psychological Association. Zach sits on the advisory board for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies

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