Using a Substance Use Health Lens to Transform Research, Policy and Practice for People Living in Canada

Sept. 15, 2023 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Jean Pigott Place, Ottawa City Hall
110 Laurier Avenue West

The Stress, Trauma and Resilience (STAR) Working Group is an interdisciplinary research group embedded within the CHAIM Centre, consisting of diverse research members from within and outside Carleton. Our one-day symposium will consist of several speakers, round table discussions, and a networking event.

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About the Symposium

Prior to the pandemic, 78% (23.3 million) people in Canada aged 15 and older reported alcohol use, 22% (6.5 million) reported psychoactive pharmaceutical use, 15% (4.5 million) reported using one or more of the following: cannabis, cocaine or crack, ecstasy, speed or methamphetamines, hallucinogens, and heroin, and 18% (5.3 million) reported tobacco use. These statistics demonstrate that substance use is relatively common among Canadians and that several types of substances are used. Nevertheless, people who use or have used substances face ongoing discrimination and stigma from the public, healthcare providers and policymakers.

The purpose of this symposium is to bring together an interdisciplinary group of scientists, clinicians, and experts with lived/living experience working on the topic of Substance Use Health, as well as end-users of knowledge (community-based organizations, policymakers) from across Canada to share knowledge and develop a long-term research agenda to fill the research, training, and policy gaps related to Substance Use Health.

View the Event Program

This will be in collaboration with CAPSA’s Working on Wellness Festival, which is an annual event to promote knowledge mobilisation in regards to Substance Use Health, Physical Health and Mental Health, and be a model of the integration of a one person, one health, system. The goal of this symposium is to reduce stigma associated with substance use and improve the health and wellness of people living in Canada.

This symposium will identify emerging research areas that can be addressed by interdisciplinary research teams and will provide valuable networking and research opportunities for trainees/highly qualified personnel.

Social Media

Engage with us on social media! We can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @Carleton_STAR. Please use these hashtags in posts related to the event: #CompassionBeginsWithUs, #STARSymposium2023

Contact Information

Please direct any questions about this event to Tariro Hlahla,


About STAR and CAPSA

The Stress, Trauma and Resilience (STAR) Working Group is an interdisciplinary research group embedded within the Canadian Health Adaptations, Innovations, and Mobilization (CHAIM) Centre at Carleton University. Using a variety of approaches to explore the intersections of health, our members conduct research at multiple levels of analysis to identify the mechanisms responsible for the development of stress-related pathology, as well as how to buffer these effects and increase resilience.

CAPSA actively collaborates with organizations, communities, and systems, resulting in substantial improvements in people’s health concerning substance use. CAPSA’s team of educators, researchers, and policy experts, informed by their professional expertise and lived experience, are dedicated to eliminating systemic stigma. By delivering evidence-based solutions, CAPSA works to ensure equitable access to knowledge and services for all individuals. This unique approach removes systemic barriers for people and brings positive change to organizations and systems as they become inclusive, effective, and compassionate in improving Substance Use Health.


Event Program




8:30 a.m. Registration, coffee
9 a.m. Opening of Symposium Dr. Kim Hellemans, Assistant professor and the Associate Dean of Science (Student Recruitment, Wellness and Success)
9:15-9:30 a.m. Opening remarks Dr. Benoit-Antoine Bacon, Professor of Psychology and Former President, Carleton University


9:30-10 a.m. Keynote: Why we never use the third word “Health” Mr. Gord Garner, VP, Strategic Partnerships, CAPSA
10-10:30 a.m. Coffee break
10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. Invited talks: Transforming services and systems for Substance Use Health Framer/Moderator: Anthony Esposti, CEO, CAPSA

Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa Public Health

Dr. Kwame McKenzie, CEO, The Wellesley Institute

12-1 p.m. Bagged lunch, visit with community partners outdoors
1-2:30 p.m. Panel: What does Substance Use Health mean for health research? Framer: Brianne Peters, Research, Impact, and Development Specialist at CAPSA

Moderator: Dr Zachary Patterson, Department of Neuroscience, Carleton University

Dr. Kim Corace, Vice-President of Innovation & Transformation, Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre

Dr. Sam Weiss, Scientific Director, CIHR

Dr. Lena Quilty, Senior Scientist and Director of Research Training, Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute, CAMH

2:30-3 p.m. Closing Remarks – Implications for Policy Anthony Esposti, CEO, CAPSA & Dr. Alexander Caudarella, CEO, CCSA

Register Today!

To register, please email