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Emergency Department

May 7th is International Harm Reduction Day!  

Harm Reduction can be defined as “policies, programs and practices that seek to reduce the adverse health, social and economic consequences of the use of legal and illegal psychoactive substances. Harm reduction is pragmatic and focuses on keeping people safe and minimizing death, disease and injury associated with higher risk behavior while recognizing that the behavior may continue despite the risks.” Government of Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living

Some everyday examples of harm reduction are needle exchange programs, wearing sunscreen, access to barrier-free, safer substance use supplies (smoking and injection supplies), safer sex supplies, wearing a seat belt, wearing a helmet while riding a bike and carrying naloxone. 

Kris Lelond, Brandon PMH Peer

This year, for National Harm Reduction Day 2024, we are highlighting our Brandon PMH peer, Kris Lelond.  Kris has been a peer volunteer with PMH for several months and the Manitoba Harm Reduction Network (MHRN), Brandon chapter for 3.5 years. In both roles, Kris advocates and educates for and about harm reduction programming and services in Brandon.  He participates in the 24-hour harm reduction lock box program at 7th Street Health Access Centre. He also partners with 7th Street outreach workers to offer harm reduction outreach services and assist with peer-informed programming.  In addition to his work at 7th Street, he supports our Regional Harm Reduction Coordinator by co-facilitating harm reduction workshops and assisting with community outreach events.  Kris’s expertise has influenced our programs for the betterment of our community and the populations we serve by pushing and advocating for systemic change.   

Our chat with Kris

Can you please tell me about yourself? 

I am a well-rounded and educated person.  I have had the fortunate opportunity to experience a very diverse life, going from having lots of money to being absolutely broke and on the streets.  I have had diverse jobs and have worked in everything from construction to culinary, oil rigs, ski hill, carpentry, farm hand, harm reduction within the health field, to opening businesses in the city.  My father passed away from suicide when I was four years old.  I had to learn how to be a dad without a dad and not have that consistent role model in my life.  But I think how much my dad loved me in the time I spent with him has helped shape my morals and values regarding how to be a dad and husband.  My ultimate goal in life is to clear up my debt and build my credit so that I can eventually own my own home again.  Also, to get set up in the career that I love and, get married one last time to the right person and have a few more kids.   

What does harm reduction mean to you?  

Harm reduction means anything you do that ultimately improves your opportunity to have a safe and healthy life regardless of drug use or not.   

Why did you get into this line of work?   

Because I have lived this life for over half of my life, and I have always wanted the opportunity to give back.  What I learned through my living situation is that I can make society better and make a difference.   

What are some of the successes you have seen in the work you do for PMH or MHRN? 

In my past careers, I have worked in some of the best kitchens and restaurants; in fact, a few of them hold record awards for perfection in the products being put out.  Any project that I have been part of, I think has been somewhat successful.  I have seen people start to practice my teachings of safer utilization of substance use equipment.  I have heard feedback that the trial projects I have been a part of have also been successful, such as the lockbox project at 7th Street. The harm reduction projects I have helped with have become a staple and a resource in our community.   

What are some of the challenges you face when doing this work?   

The limitations of the work we are able to do: we could be doing more to be more progressive.  There should be full-time harm reduction jobs for us to do this kind of work to sustain ourselves and contribute to our economy.   

If there is one message you would like to get out to the people reading this article, what would it be?   

It only takes one person and person alone to incorporate change that can impact the world.  Change definitely impacts the people around us.  It can extend to other places and possibly throughout the world.   

In recognition of National Harm Reduction Day, the following events will be taking place: 

  • Brandon, May 7th, 1 pm – 2 pm, Princess Park with food and supply distribution  
  • Dauphin, May 7th from 1-3, Parkview Lodge – testing/wellness event including Soup and Bannock  
  • Swan River, May 15th, WSFN Community Hall – Syphilis & Congenital Syphilis Education, STBBI Testing, Naloxone Training.

      Visit our harm reduction webpage for more information on services available within our region.

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