Cannabis, va­p­ing, harm re­duc­tion to be dis­cussed

South Shore Breaker - - TOURISM - ERIC BOURQUE TRI-COUNTY VAN­GUARD

As they pre­pare for their next phase of com­mu­nity ses­sions, a spokesper­son for Ru­ral Truth Mat­ters says the idea is to ad­dress var­i­ous top­ics, in­clud­ing cannabis, but also va­p­ing and other is­sues, along with harm re­duc­tion tools.

Ru­ral Truth Mat­ters is the cannabis ed­u­ca­tion and sub­stance user sup­port project at the Tri-county Women’s Cen­tre.

Billed as “com­mu­nity-led con­ver­sa­tions,” the first ses­sion in the next round of meet­ings is

sched­uled for Jan. 13 at NSCC Bur­ridge cam­pus in Yar­mouth from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

“The first year we did ses­sions all over the tri-coun­ties on just ba­sic cannabis in­for­ma­tion and our project,” said Joan Don­ald­son, project co­or­di­na­tor. “Part B, for the next year, we’re go­ing back to those com­mu­ni­ties.”

Cannabis, of course, will be among the top­ics ad­dressed, among other sub­stances. Va­p­ing has been in the news a lot lately and will be dis­cussed too, Don­ald­son said, as will harm re­duc­tion tools, in­clud­ing Nalox­one and safe-in­jec­tion sup­plies.

Fed­eral fund­ing for the Tri-county Women’s Cen­tre’s cannabis ed­u­ca­tion and sub­stance user sup­port project was an­nounced last year, right around the time recre­ational cannabis be­came le­gal in Canada. A year later, cannabis ed­i­bles are now le­gal, al­though they aren’t avail­able yet.

“We’re go­ing to be talk­ing about those,” Don­ald­son said. “I think that’s a real con­cern for peo­ple. They’re con­cerned about what (ed­i­bles) will look like? How safe is this? How are they go­ing to be sold? Are they go­ing to be at­trac­tive to chil­dren?”

Speak­ing more gen­er­ally about the Ru­ral Truth Mat­ters ini­tia­tive, Don­ald­son notes that a corner­stone of the project is that there is no stigma or judg­ment.

“We re­al­ize that peo­ple are us­ing cannabis and other sub­stances in our com­mu­nity,” she said. “If that’s the case, in­stead of judg­ing and stig­ma­tiz­ing th­ese peo­ple, how can we re­duce the harm of what they’re do­ing through ed­u­ca­tion and sup­plies and those kinds of things?”

The Ru­ral Truth Mat­ters team in­cludes a project nav­i­ga­tor for each of the three coun­ties, in­clud­ing Kelly Fox­ton, who works out of Digby and who spoke a bit about work­ing with young peo­ple.

“The em­pha­sis is on con­nect­ing with youth in what­ever ca­pac­ity makes them feel com­fort­able around us as adults and men­tors,” she said. “The end goal is to es­tab­lish th­ese re­la­tion­ships and then help men­tor them to be peer sup­ports for youth their own age.”

The idea, over the longer term, she said, “is for the project to be sus­tain­able so that the youth re­ally take an in­ter­est in what other youth are do­ing and how healthy they are and how they’re think­ing about things.”

At the time of the in­ter­view, Fox­ton and her fel­low project nav­i­ga­tors were a couple of days away from a trip to Hal­i­fax, where they would have a chance to learn more about what’s be­ing done there, “so that we can kind of keep that on our radar as we’re sort of seek­ing to un­der­stand what works down here.”

CANNABIS

Dis­cussing the cannabis ed­u­ca­tion & sub­stance user sup­port project (Ru­ral Truth Mat­ters) at the Tri-county Women’s Cen­tre are, from left, Judy Greene, project ther­a­pist; Trish Mc­court, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Tri-county Women’s Cen­tre; Kelly Fox­ton, An­gela Goudey and Colette Me­lan­son, project nav­i­ga­tors for Digby, Yar­mouth and Shel­burne coun­ties, re­spec­tively; and Joan Don­ald­son, project co-or­di­na­tor. ERIC BOURQUE PHOTO

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