Taking Pride in Safety - Harm reduction strategies for event and festival organizers

June 24, 2022

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Pride Festival weekend starts today! We are honoured to be one of the official Harm Reduction partners with Pride Toronto for this year’s event. We will be providing harm reduction services and support, including the distribution of Harm Reduction supplies at the festival tents. Naloxone kits, Safer Sex kits, Safer injection kits, Fentanyl testing strips, Safer smoking kits, naloxone training, and safer disposal will all be available to ensure guests' needs are met and everyone is kept safe.

Where:

The Harm Reduction tents will be at Church and Wellesley and Church and Carlton

When:

Friday, June 24: From 7 pm to 11 pm 

Saturday, June 25: From 1 pm to 2 am

Sunday, June 26: From 1 pm to 11 pm

 

The move from Pride to incorporate Harm Reduction strategies into the event is part of a growing trend, demonstrating festival organizers are stepping up and getting serious about curating spaces that respect the safety of all guests without creating barriers or stigma.

Pride’s philosophy is as follows “Meeting people where they are at, in a judgment-free space, is integral to ensuring that everyone can celebrate Pride in whatever way works best for them. And whatever works best for them works best for us. People are in charge of their own lives and all we can do is provide services for folks to be as safe as possible. 

Pride is living up to its values as an organization and others would do well to follow suit. Organizers of events, festivals, and other large gatherings need to continue to do more to include services for harm reduction in their event planning.

Below are some items that organizers must keep in mind when choosing to integrate harm reduction practices into the planning and implementation of an event or festival as outlined by British Columbia’s Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions.

 

  1. Have naloxone kits readily available: Naloxone is a medication that can reverse the effects of an overdose from opioids such as heroin, morphine, fentanyl, carfentanil, and codeine.
  2. Have a dedicated harm reduction and drug checking team: A harm reduction tent should be a safe place for people to get life-saving materials and information from trained staff.
  3. Properly train volunteers: Volunteers will do the most face-to-face interaction with guests out of anyone involved in organizing the festival. Make sure they are trained on basic harm reduction principles and ensure they know where to direct folks to find the services they need.
  4. Make sure attendees know where they can go for help in a medical emergency: Harm reduction tents should be visible and appear on the event map so attendees know where to find help. This information should be shared on social media and included on the website.
  5. Plan communications to keep people safe. Use all available communications channels to remind guests about the risks of using drugs alone and the signs of an overdose. Encourage attendees to look out for each other. You should use social media as a tool to alert people of fentanyl detection or overdoses that occur during the event. 

 

Sources:

https://www.stopoverdose.gov.bc.ca/theweekly/organizing-safety-overdose-prevention-event-and-festival-organizers

https://www.pridetoronto.com/harm-reduction/

Resources:

Drug checking at Festivals, a how-to guide:

http://michelow.ca/drug-checking-guide/

Naloxone Training

https://ohrn.org/naloxone/

Opioid awareness wallet card

Opioid overdose: wallet card - Canada.ca