Spreading the Word: Harm Reduction in Student Services

On October 24 and 25, 2018, Campus Living Centres was proud to partner with Seneca College Residence to host the award-winning Umbrella Project Training, a free two-day training focused on understanding theory and biases related to substance use, harm reduction, and conversation techniques with students who engage in substance use.

In partnership with Algonquin College, and Ottawa’s Rideauwood Addiction and Family Services, training included two full days: the first on ‘Understanding Substance Use and Harm Reduction’, and the second on ‘Motivational Interviewing Skills’. Presenters Amanda Neilson, Lisa Boulay, and Andrew Mendes from traveled Ottawa to deliver this training to over 30 student affairs professionals from CLC’s partner institutions, including Seneca College, Georgian College, George Brown College, Thompson Rivers University, as well as members of Campus Living Centres’ Off-Campus Housing portfolio.

In light of the recent legalization of cannabis in Canada, participants were able to partake in timely discussions around approaching student cannabis use on their campuses using a harm reduction approach. The teachings of harm reduction attempt to break down biases surrounded the negative stigma associated with substance use and addiction. “Trying to challenge these ideas that have become social norms requires a large team and many different levels of intervention, education, and change” said Amanda Neilson, Algonquin College’s Harm Reduction Consultant.

This training is a portion of the larger Umbrella Project toolkit aimed at substance use awareness, overdose prevention, early intervention resources, and student-focused educational tools. More information and resources about the Umbrella Project can be found here: https://www.algonquincollege.com/umbrellaproject/.

On behalf of Campus Living Centres, we would like to thank the Umbrella Project Trainers for sharing their skills and knowledge with our campus colleagues.

For more information about the Umbrella Project, please contact Amanda Neilson at neilsoa@algonquincollege.com.

For more information about this event and training, please contact Dimple Rai, Associate Director, Residence Life, at drai@campuslivingcentres.com.