Human Rights Education Project

For information on harm reduction and human rights in light of COVID-19, visit our COVID-19 statement and resources page.


The right to rights

Everyone has a right to health, yet not everyone can get the services they need. People who use drugs regularly experience barriers to life-saving services, and it’s their voices that inform this project. The Human Rights Education Project provides information on rights and health that are protected under provincial and federal law.

A human-rights based approach:

  • recognizes drug use as a health issue requiring evidence-based health care solutions
  • recognizes that stigma against people who use drugs is connected to negative health outcomes and death
  • recognizes that discriminatory barriers to accessing health services violate human rights law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
  • focuses on marginalized and high-risk groups with attention to the unique circumstances of Indigenous peoples
  • uses strategies of empowerment
  • monitors and evaluates both outcomes and processes using human rights standards


This community-based project centres on the right to health. Using data from Pivot Legal Society’s Project Inclusion report, national and international sources, we take a rights-based approach to the opioid crisis response.

We are developing train-the-trainer workshops and a Toolkit of resources that will be available to Regional Response Teams (RRTs) and Community Action Teams (CATs) funded under the Overdose Emergency Response Centre. These teams are responsible for implementation plans to reach people at risk of overdose, and develop localized projects and programs that will address multiple sectors, including

First Nations, communities, Municipalities, first responders, front-line community agencies, people and families with lived experience, businesses, local government agencies (eg. housing, social
development, education), and the local recovery community. (from the Overdose Emergency Response Centre Terms of Reference).

The Human Rights Education Project will offer rights-specific information and resources for CATs looking to address these issues in their action plans.

The project is a partnership between PAN and RISE Leadership and is being evaluated throughout its development.

Project Goals

  • Build partnerships with RRTs and CATs to support their work in communities
  • Deliver train-the-trainer workshops to the CATs, RRTs, community organizations and others who work with people who use drugs
  • Build meaningful peer engagement and leadership amongst people with lived experiences, using “Nothing About Us Without Us” principles
  • Support the work of CATs to 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


Putting Goals to Work


The Human Rights Education Project Toolkit is in two parts. Part 1 provides a foundation to frame human rights in relation to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; drug use as a health and rights issue in BC; and research information collected from people who use drugs (PWUD) in BC (reported in Project Inclusion report, by Pivot Legal Society). Part 2 provides tools for action: engaging people with lived experience; moving beyond stigma, and printable templates for work by Community Action teams.




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)

Peerology, A guide by and for people who use drugs on how to get involved

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)



This project has been funded for one year through the Overdose Emergency Response Centre/ Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions.