top of page


The Working Group is an ongoing collaboration of a group of people with lived and living expertise of drug use (PWLE) from across the country who are engaged in addressing the overdose crisis. Bringing together our collective expertise and advocacy work on the frontlines, we support CRISM projects, research, and identify priorities in order to advocate for dope policies.


The Canadian Research Initiative in Substance use Matters (CRISM) is a national research-practice-policy network focused on substance use, comprising four large interdisciplinary regional teams (Nodes) representing British Columbia, the Prairie Provinces, Ontario, and Quebec/Atlantic. Each CRISM node includes regional research scientists, service providers, policy makers, community leaders, and people with lived and living expertise of substance use. CRISM’s mission is to translate the best scientific evidence into clinical practice, health services, and policy change.



Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs (CAPUD) & Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (CSSDP) | Nova Scotia

Matthew is the program coordinator of the Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs, national board member with the Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy and is a knowledge translator for the Dr. Peters Centre. Matt was one of the cofounders of HaliFIX Overdose Prevention Society which implemented Atlantic Canada’s first Overdose Prevention Site. Matt is also a Canadian Editorial Consultant with Filter - Magazine  a nonprofit media outlet based out of New York. As well as a freelance writer with By Lines in Policy Options, Doctors Nova Scotia, Talking Drugs, CATIE, The Coast and The Conversation. Matt has a business marketing diploma and he is a 3rd year student for Business Commerce at St. Mary’s University.

NatashaTouesnard .jpg


CAPUD | Nova Scotia

Natasha is currently the Executive director of the Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs. Prior to this role she was the full-time site coordinator at the Open Door Clinic, a family practice and opioid agonist treatment clinic. She was also among several local drug users who co-founded and formed the first drug user group in Atlantic Canada. The Halifax Area Network of Drug Using People was created through their collective vision, and she held the role of Project Coordinator for a number of years. Natasha was on the Canadian Delegation at the 62nd UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in 2019 in Vienna, Austria.


Knowledge and Power of Women (KAPOW) | Ontario

Press Conference-2.jpg

Kathy Pinheiro has over 10 years Harm Reduction experience.  She is a Harm Reduction Peer Support Worker at Sistering which is a 24/7 low barrier drop in for marginalized women and Trans folks in Toronto.  She works as relief and, on an as needed basis for Regent Park Community Health Centre Harm Reduction Program and Consumption Treatment Centre. Her lived experience helps the people of the downtown east side ensure they receive safe/clean drug using equipment. She specifically supports the injection drug users of the area and observes, assists with injections as needed, but most importantly assures any overdoses are reversed and no unnecessarily lives are lost.  Kathy lives in a Toronto Community Housing Building where she runs a Satellite Harm Reduction Site on behalf of Parkdale Community Queen West Health Centre thereby assuring the people who use drugs (PWUD) in her building and community have access to Harm Reduction tools and information; with that, she makes sure Naloxone is available to building and area residents ensuring anyone involved with using drugs receives drug overdose awareness and prevention information.  Kathy also has been a long time member of KAPOW (knowledge and power of women) which is a weekly drop-in for drug users and sex workers.  She creates and facilitates Harm Reduction educational workshops which she shares with Shelters and Drop-Ins within the Toronto area.



Drug Users Advocacy League (DUAL) & Ottawa Inner City Health | Ontario

Born in Nova Scotia and raised on a series of Armed Forces Bases, Sean LeBlanc struck out on his own by age 14 and grew up across Canada. He arrived to Ottawa in 2000 and survived an opioid addiction, homelessness and criminalization - founding the Drug Users Advocacy League (DUAL) in 2010. Sean later was the co-Principal Investigator of the PROUD Study: Participatory Research in Ottawa Understanding Drugs - the largest community cohort study in Canada. He currently consults on drug consumer and policy issues. Sean is a dedicated advocate and loves documentaries, ball, punk rock and his partner Catherine.



Black Coaltion for AIDS Prevention | Ontario

Michael resides in Toronto. He is an elder and a father of two adult sons and an adult daughter. Michael works in Toronto delivering Harm Reduction-guided support to people who are experiencing challenges related to the use of psychoactive substances.



COUNTERfit & keepSIX | Ontario

Frank Crichlow has been a harm reduction worker for over 12 years with COUNTERfit harm reduction program at South Riverdale Community Health Centre.  In his role at COUNTERfit he provides both on and off-site harm reduction education, referrals and distribution. Frank works at both SRCHC’s safe consumption service (keepSIX) and volunteered with the Toronto Overdose Prevention Site at both Moss Park and Parkdale unsanctioned sites. He helped to start and still works at the Riverdale Men’s Group, a wellness program at SRCHC.  Frank is a member of the Stigma & Discrimination Group, the Strategic Implementation Panel and the Drug Policy Committee of the Toronto Drug Strategy, Toronto Public Health. He is a member of the City of Toronto’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism committee. He is the Chair of the Toronto Drug Users Union and a member of the Toronto Harm Reduction Alliance and on the Board of the Canadian Association of People who Use Drugs. Frank has spoken on issues of harm reduction for a variety of audiences and venues including academic conferences, research ethics boards and community workshops.



CAPUD | Saskatchewan

Brandi is an advocate for the rights of current and former drug users to be treated as full citizens and human beings in Saskatchewan. She completed training as an addictions counsellor (diploma) in 2012, and worked in the Northern community of La Loche from winter 2012 -2016, on both abstinence-based programs and developing harm reduction strategies in the context of a rural, Indigenous community. Brandi is a national board member with the Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs.



Manitoba Harm Reduction Network | Manitoba

Cree and Ojibway, Dawn was born and raised in Winnipeg. A former youth in care and a former great deal of other things; she strives to share the teachings and lessons she has learned along her journey in a good way. As a young adult Dawn was drawn to the people and community work of the Manitoba Harm Reduction Network in 2004; starting as an active peer on the Peer Working Group and joins the team this year as Project Coordinator.



ANKOR & HOPE | British Columbia

Alex Sherstobitoff lives and works on the unceded territory of the Sinixt, Sylix and Ktunaxa Nations in the West Kootenay/Boundary area of BC.  Alex has lived experience with the use of drugs and is working in the field of Harm Reduction since 1999 with ANKORS (AIDS Network, Outreach & Support Society).  Alex is involved with drug user organizing and continues to work with, develop and establish local user groups such as REDUN (Rural Empowered Drug Users Network) in Nelson, Trail and a group in Grand Forks H.O.P.E. (Helping Our People Evolve)  REDUN’s and HOPE’s biggest identified issues have been the stigma and discrimination that people who use drugs experience in their rural communities.  He is a board member of the BC/Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors and works to stop overdoses, blood borne infections and empower people who use drugs to take action regarding their needs and ability to exist in their communities.



CAPUD & BCCSU | British Columbia

Dean is a long-time advocate and activist on behalf of people who use drugs. He is the long-term peer representative for the Portland Hotel Society and is the peer facilitation lead at the British Columbia Centre for Substance Use.

Memorial Candle

The ones

we've lost



1978 - October 9, 2022

CAPUD | Quebec

Karen Turner.jpg


August 11, 1964 – March 22, 2021

Boyle Street Community | Alberta



October 25, 1967 – September 25, 2020

Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) & EIDGE | British Columbia

Rick Sproule.jpeg


September 6, 1958– April 14, 2019

CAPUD, Overdose Prevention Ottawa, Ottawa Inner City Health & DUAL | Ontario

bottom of page