CURRENT FOCUS: UNSILENCING STORIES
Counter-narratives, community-based research, arts-based methods
& the opioid overdose crisis
Oral history with bereaved people in smaller centres
Over 32,000 people in Canada have experienced fatal opioid overdoses since a public health emergency was declared in 2016.
The rate of overdose in smaller centres is disproportionately high, due to a lack of harm reduction and health care services as well as widespread stigma about people who use substances.
This project involves facilitating reciprocal, peer-to-peer interviews with people in three communities of less than 100,00 people in Western Canada who have lost loves ones to overdose. Many experience prolonged grief, which is a recognized disability in Canada.
Through their testimonies, collaborators disrupt notions that people who use drugs are not worthy of being grieved. They also challenge stigma and call on authorities to do more to prevent further overdoses.
My 10,000-word paper about the study, co-authored with two student researchers, is under review with Journalism Practice.
Please listen to some of the collaborators' stories on the Unsilencing Stories podcast.
Oral history and arts-based research with peer harm reduction workers
A small tagline
This ongoing study involves leading a team of 10 student researchers who are conducting multiple oral history interviews and arts-based research with 10 peer harm reduction workers in B.C.
Harm reduction worker or peers with substance use experience provide critical lifesaving services for vulnerabloe people who use substances, including many with disabilities.
Yet peers face extraordinary streessors, including low pay, job precarity, and trauma from continually witnessing overdoses and reviving people.
By working closely with peers over a long period of time, our study aims to assist them in sharing deep and little-known information about their work-related stressors. Many are sharing how their gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and disabilities impact their stressors.
Our team of researchers are also producing graphic illustrations about the peers' testimonies and work-related stressors. We are also interview peers about these illustrations and combining their responses in a compelling multimedia format.
collaborative photography, Photo-elicitation
& the overdose crisis
For decades, documentary photographers and photojournalists have produced stigmatizing images of peple who use substances.
From 2014 to 2015, I collaborated with three long-term opioid users taking part in North America’s first heroin-assisted treatment program (SALOME) in Vancouver, B.C. The purpose was to collaboratively produce images that challenge stigma.
In order to help amplify collaborators' voices and experiences, I conducted photo-elicitation interviews and invited them to share their thoughts about the photos.
I wrote a three-part series published on Medium (links below), and wrote about the study in The Conversation and Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism. My scholarly chapter about the project was published in The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy and Science of Addiction. The study was profiled by BBC3, CBC News, and Postmedia.
Podcasting & critical disability studies
Over a million people in Canada have been officially diagnosed with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS).
It is also known as Environmental Illness, Chemical Intolerance, and Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT).
In the US, as much as 36 per cent of the population reports having the condition.
Many researchers believe it will become one ofthe most widespread illnesses in the coming decades.
The condition affects a
number of bodily systems and leaves people unable to tolerate chemicals, typically following exposure to large amounts of toxins or after frequent low-level exposures.
In spite of the prevalence ofthe illness, it remains widely misunderstood and stigmatized.
I founded and produce The Chemical Sensitivity Podcast. The purpose is to amplify the voices and experiences of people with MCS and highlight research about it.
Duterte's Hell, a documentary I co-directed and filmed, highlights the impacts of thousands of extrajudicial killings of alleged drug users and dealers in the Philippines. It was produced by Field of Vision, published online by The Intercept, premiered at MoMA in New York, and has screened at numerous film festivals across North America and Europe. The documentary won a World Press Award, was nominated for a Grierson Trust Award, and was selected as a Vimeo Staff Pick.