Urban Native Youth Association
For over 30 years, the Urban Native Youth Association (UNYA) has been providing a wide range of services, opportunities, and supports for Indigenous youth who have faced adversity from a young age and don’t know where to go for help. With over 100 staff, plus almost the same number of volunteers delivering more than 20 programs, UNYA supports and empowers the young people they serve with compassion, respect, and enthusiasm for their future. They have also established a network of over 200 community partners with whom they work to extend the supports offered to Indigenous youth.
With programs ranging from arts and culture activities, prevention and intervention services, health and wellness resources including a Native Youth Health and Wellness Centre, to employment preparation services, UNYA works within its limited funding framework to offer important opportunities and amplify the voices of Indigenous youth in our city.
By reaching youth where they are and providing a holistic and supportive framework within the context of two-eyed seeing (a holistic and integrated approach that incorporates the strength of knowledge and ways of knowing from both Indigenous and Western ways), UNYA is invaluable in Vancouver.
Dr. Christy Sutherland
Dr. Christy Sutherland is a family practice physician, addiction expert, and a innovator of new therapies to confront the opioid crisis. As a clinical assistant professor at UBC and medical director for the PHS Community Services Society in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Dr. Sutherland leads a team providing health care for people who struggle with addictions to drugs and alcohol, experience severe mental health issues, and those with chronic illness such as Hepatitis C, HIV, and diabetes. She was one of the first in North America to offer an injectable opioid-substitution program outside of research that has seen very positive results.
Injections of hydromorphone, self-administered in a clinical setting under the supervision of a nurse, offer those addicted to drugs a clean alternative to street drugs that may contain deadly fentanyl or carfentanil. Over the past three years, the program has expanded to serve hundreds of clients and has been instrumental in helping people get out of the cycle of poverty, crime, and unsafe activities that often accompany drug use. Dr. Sutherland is working with the BC Centre on Substance Use to develop Canadian clinical guidelines; Alberta and Ontario have already followed her lead.
In addition, Dr. Sutherland has recently been the first to introduce a tablet distribution program, also provided under clinical supervision, that offers an alternative when hydromorphone, methadone, and suboxone aren’t effective. Her committed efforts to harm reduction within the context of addiction, and genuine concern for the safety and quality of life of her patients have earned multiple awards and accolades; most importantly, she is saving lives and improving health outcomes for some of the most vulnerable citizens of Vancouver.
PHS Community Services Society
Founded in 1991 as the Portland Hotel Society, PHS Community Services was started by people who were moved to action by the suffering, poverty, and discrimination they saw in the Downtown Eastside, particularly with regard to the thousands of active drug users living in poverty and in desperate need of basic human supports. Since its beginnings in The Portland Hotel, PHS has become an important support for the community providing housing, advocacy, and services for those who are marginalized and poorly served in the community, often due to drug use, mental health issues, and complex medical needs.
PHS is well known for providing shelters and social housing, and are leaders in shifting government social housing policies. As pioneers of the harm reduction model of care for drug use, and in an effort to stem the tide of the HIV epidemic in the 1990s, PHS took the lead in establishing North America’s first legally sanctioned supervised injection site.
By meeting people where they are and listening to their needs and interests to develop understanding, PHS is able to respond quickly to fill the necessary gaps. That is how many of their essential programs and services, including the Drug Users Resource Centre, Hastings Urban Farm, Inter Urban Art Gallery, and PHS Primary Care Clinic, materialized.
Finding ways to partner with business, government, and other community agencies, PHS has established a wide-reaching and effective network to support the people they serve. As a leader in social inclusion, human rights advocacy, and social justice, PHS Community Services is unequaled in the impacts it has had in Vancouver and serves as a model of innovation and progress throughout the world.