Human Rights Education Project

The right to rights

The Human Rights Education Project is part of British Columbia’s response to the overdose crisis that was declared a public health emergency in 2016. A partnership between PAN and RISE Leadership, the Human Rights Education Project will use data from Pivot Legal Society’s Project Inclusion report (2018) to show how overdose prevention and related services are not accessible to all who want to use them, and will guide change so that the indisputable human rights of people who use drugs are upheld.


Human Rights-based Education

The first goal of the Ministry of Mental Health and Addiction Service Plan for 2019-2022 is “to implement and oversee an escalated, coordinated, and sustained plan of action that includes investments and improvements to mental health and substance use services” (page 5), and data shows that to achieve this, human rights work is needed. The Human Rights Education Project team will illustrate how the human rights of people who use drugs are often violated, creating barriers to services and supports. Educators will work with Overdose Emergency Response Centre (OERC)  mandated Community Action Teams (CATs) and Regional Response Teams (RRTs) to develop processes to eliminate barriers, so people needing services have equitable access.

A human rights-based approach urges municipal government, Indigenous partners, first responders, public safety, front-line community agencies, Divisions of Family Practice, people and families with lived experiences and local provincial ministry offices providing housing, children and family, and poverty reduction services to:

  • recognize drug use as a health issue requiring evidence-based health care solutions
  • recognize that stigma against people who use drugs is correlated with negative health outcomes and death
  • recognize that discriminatory obstacles to the provision of health services to people who use drugs violates human rights law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
  • recognize people who use drugs as key actors in their own health care
  • employ strategies of empowerment
  • focus on marginalized and high-risk groups with attention to the unique circumstances of indigenous peoples
  • monitor and evaluate both outcomes and processes using human rights standards

Project team

The project is led by Manager Kira Haug, and includes a Peer Coordinator, Educator, human rights lawyer, and Knowledge Translator. Team members live in different parts of BC, bringing regional perspectives and experiences.

Project Goals

  • Build meaningful peer engagement and leadership using “Nothing About Us Without Us” principles
  • Deliver and evaluate workshops to the CATs, RRTs, and community organizations and others who work with people who use drugs to provide professional development and education
  • Inspire human rights-based change and leadership in services for people who use drugs
  • Changes in policies, services and supports will lead to people who use drugs experiencing positive change, dignity, compassion and empowerment as well as better health outcomes

Pilot sessions will begin and be evaluated in the summer of 2019, and build towards full program delivery in the fall and winter of 2019. The project has been funded for one year through the Overdose Emergency Response Centre/ Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions.


Learn More

Project Inclusion: A human rights approach to HIV, HCV and overdose prevention in BC (Pivot Legal Society, 2018)

Nothing About Us Without Us: Greater, Meaningful Involvement of People Who Use Illegal Drugs: A Public Health, Ethical, and Human Rights Imperative (Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and Open Society Institute, 2008)

Do No Harm: Health, human rights and people who use drugs

BC Human Rights Code

PAN’s Drug Use and Overdose Response resources

The impact of the opioid crisis on First Nations communities (First Nations Health Authority)

Prison Health and Advocacy (Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network)


Contact Kira Haug, Project Manager


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