Runtime: 35:41

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In this episode, award-winning journalist David P. Ball and award-winning family physician Dr. Robert Fox speak with Kali Sedgemore, the president of the Coalition of Peers Dismantling the Drug War and a skilled harm reductionist with a focus on supporting youth. Kali is from ‘Namgis First Nation, a small remote island on Vancouver Island North, and Dr. Fox is a member of the Blood Tribe in what’s colonially known as southern Alberta. Together, they discuss reasons for youth substance use and considerations for providers when meeting and supporting young people who use drugs. Kali also speaks to the intersection between Indigenous identity and safer access to substance use care.


Learning Objectives

  1. Discuss reasons for substance use among young people and how this may impact their substance use care goals.
  2. Understand the importance of harm reduction education and approaches for young people who use drugs given the increasingly toxic drug supply.
  3. Understand how to create a safer space for your client to talk to you about their substance use and their goals.


In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • 1:41 – Dr. Robert Fox, Co-host – Family Physician, Seabird Island Medical Centre
  • 9:15 – Kali Sedgemore, Guest – Peer Supervisor, Molson OPS & MOPU; President, Coalition of Peers Dismantling the Drug War

Clinical Pearls

Here’s what listeners can take away from this episode:

  1. To avoid creating a paternalistic dynamic during interactions with young clients, use active listening. Listening to understand, instead of listening to solve their problems, will create a safer environment for your client to disclose information about their substance use and substance use care goals.
  2. In some cases, youth are using drugs to stay alive. For example, youth who are unhoused or precariously housed may use stimulants to stay alert at night to protect themselves and their possessions. Other youth may use substances to cope with trauma and pain. Take some time to reflect on your own biases about why youth use drugs, such as misconceptions that most youth solely use drugs to be rebellious or to get high. At the same time, understand that some of your clients may want to get high. In all cases, avoid guessing about the motivations behind your client’s substance use.
  3. Youth are not always comfortable in adult-oriented spaces, which can include a doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital. Reflect on ways to make your workplace a safer space for young people of diverse experiences, cultures, and gender and sexual identities.
  4. Uplift and underscore the strengths of young clients. Ask all your clients about their goals and what brings them happiness and collaborate with them to build a care plan that works for them.


Indigenous youth-led programs and resources

Featured article (mentioned in the episode & co-authored by Kali Sedgemore)

Articles and books

Indigenous films and podcasts on related topics


Credits: Art and music

Episode cover art by Satsi Naziel entitled “Self-Determination” and described as “a person in their button blanket, leading their own life with the freedom of an eagle”.

Satsi Naziel is a two-spirited Wet’suwet’en and Chilean Artist. They were born in unceded Wet’suwet’en territory in what is known as Smithers British Columbia. They have spent a lot of time connecting on their Yintah (the traditional land of the Wet’suwet’en). Though Satsi has been an artist for most of their life, they have been practicing North West Coast Art since 2020. Satsi finds passion, inspiration, and dreams in their traditional artform. They love to spread the healing, the reconnection and pride that comes with seeing and creating North West Coast pieces. They believe this artform like any other cultural aspect of the Wet’suwet’en, brings back the spirit of their nations’ people piece by piece. As we work through the trauma of colonization, we become our ancestors’ wildest dreams through decolonization and the reclamation of everything that makes us strong and beautiful. Snekalyah (Thank you).

Music by Justin Delorme/Chippewa Travellers (“Determination”), Handsome Tiger/Chippewa Travellers (“Healing” & “SummerBlues”) and Mimi O’Bonsawin (“NewDay”). Available on Nagamo Publishing. Licensed by Nagamo Publishing Inc.