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  • PHO: A Conversation on Anti-Racism in Substance Use Work

PHO: A Conversation on Anti-Racism in Substance Use Work

  • 28 Mar 2022
  • 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
  • Webinar

Webinar: A Conversation on Anti-Racism in Substance Use Work

Community Opioid/Overdose Capacity Building (COM-CAP) partners have identified anti-racism and culturally-informed knowledge and skills as priority needs for their work in addressing opioid/overdose harms. To support this work, the COM-CAP team has brought together a panel of speakers with extensive experience in adopting anti-racism and cultural humility in service provision, advocacy, and capacity building. In this moderated discussion, speakers will provide a variety of perspectives including:

         • Providing harm reduction services for African, Black and Caribbean (ACB)-identified communities
         • Advocacy and collaboration from the perspective of persons with living, or lived, expertise of drug use (PWLEs)
         • Supporting community organizations and public health units in anti-racism education and skill building

This session will be recorded for ongoing training and educational purposes.

**This webinar is being hosted and recorded on the traditional territory of many nations, including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples. Toronto continues to be home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.**

Intended Audience: Municipal Drug Strategy Coordinator’s Network of Ontario, Public Health Unit teams working in drug strategies and/or involved in harm reduction, people who use drugs, COM-CAP project partners (3 community-based initiatives, Advisory Committee, Scientific Team, OCAD University’s Health Design Studio, University of Toronto’s Strategy Design and Evaluation Initiative).

By the end of this session, participants will be able to:

         • Summarize best practices in adopting anti-racist approaches in substance use work
         • Describe key elements for meaningful engagement of racialized people with living or lived experience of drug use (PWLE)
         • Identify actions or strategies for strengthening organizational/group knowledge and skills in anti-racism action    

Presenter(s): Cassandra Smith, Colin Johnson and Samiya Abdi

Colin Johnson is a member of the Toronto Harm Reduction Alliance, a co-facilitator with the Ontario Harm Reduction Network, and has extensively collaborated with a range of academic and organizational collaborations on substance use, housing, and HIV and AIDS.

Cassandra Smith conducts workshops, trainings and presentations on substance use, parenting, and systemic racism against the African Caribbean Black (ACB) community. Her knowledge stems from working in community services for more than 10 years along with her lived experience. She hopes to inspire, build and motivate the ACB community’s capacity to support those facing challenges associated with mental health, substance use, and child protection. Cassandra’s guest/keynote speaking engagements include Toronto Children’s Aid Society’s AGM and the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition’s Stimulus Connect 2020. She joined the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention in November 2018 and became their Harm Reduction Specialist in September 2020.

Samiya Abdi is a Senior Program Specialist at PHO. She is passionate about making the public health system more equitable, challenging intersecting forms of oppression, and understanding marginalization in knowledge production, research, and practice. Samiya possesses extensive experience in community engagement work, has co-founded international movements such as the Somali Gender Equity Movement and Famine Resisters alongside local initiatives such as Aspire2Lead and the Toronto Muslim Youth Political fellowship. Samiya is the winner of The Lori Chow Award for exceptional leadership. The winner of Woman of the Year Award, by The Federation of Muslim Women, and the MAX Woman of the Year Award.


The opinions expressed by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies or views of Public Health Ontario, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by Public Health Ontario.


Public Health Ontario is committed to complying with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). If you require accommodations to participate in this event, please contact 647-260-7100 or

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