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GenNext Inspiring Passion: The Needle & The Damage Done

February 8 @ 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Email takeaction@uwaywrc.ca to register now!

It is estimated 70 people died of opioid overdoses last year in Waterloo Region alone. Thousands died across the country. A recent statement released by the federal Health Minister declared the opioid crisis is “unlike any other public health crisis we have experienced in recent years.”

And yet, unlike SARS or the bird flu, the opioid crisis hasn’t sparked widespread fear or panic.

Instead, there’s apprehension about the kind of services and facilities this crisis might bring into our neighbourhoods. There’s fear and anger about the dirty needles found littered in parks and on the streets. And some are asking if this isn’t just the sad, but inevitable misfortune that follows a series of bad choices.

Where do you stand?

On February 8th, join GenNext Waterloo Region Communities for an honest and frank discussion about the opioid crisis. How do we really feel about the rising death toll and the community’s response to it?


Christine Padaric, Moms Stop the Harm, Overdose Canada, Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing (GRASP) – Waterloo Chapter.

  • In 2013, Christine lost her son, Austin, to an accidental overdose. For the past 5 years, she has dedicated her time to raising awareness and providing education on harm reduction, overdose prevention, and the support of Bill C-224. As she prepares to wind down with that work, her focus is now shifting to ensuring treatment is available for those who are saying, “I’m ready for a change; now what?”.

Patrick Boot, Overlap Associates

  • With 8 years of experience in human-centred problem solving, Patrick oversees the majority of projects at Overlap Associates – Canada’s leading design thinking agency, bringing empathy into organizations to effect system-wide transformations. Patrick is an expert in using empathy building to help solve difficult and complex problems.

Violet Umanetz, Sanguen Health Centre

  • Violet is the Manager of Outreach (Education & Prevention) at Sanguen Health Centre. Violet believes strongly in the power of education to combat stigma and eliminate negative stereotypes. She uses this passion to create presentations and workshops for agencies, community groups, and clients, on a variety of topics relating to harm reduction.

Bill Kirby, For A Better Cambridge

  • Bill is an Organizing Committee Member of For A Better Cambridge, a grassroots movement of concerned Cambridge residents and businesses who want to see the city of Cambridge thrive and prosper. They aim to engage with the public to listen, learn, and inform future action in order to come up with a coordinated response to the local opioid crisis.

Ruth Cameron, AIDS Committee of Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo & Area (ACCKWA)

  • As the Executive Director of ACCKWA, Ruth and her team work to provide harm reduction programs and service across Waterloo Region. Ruth is also a PhD. candidate in Community Psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Grace Bermingham, Region of Waterloo Public Health 

  • Grace is the Chair of the Waterloo Region Integrated Drugs Strategy’s Harm Reduction Coordinating Committee, where she works very closely with many of the other panelists. Grace is also a Manger in Public Health at Region of Waterloo.

This event will be moderated by Melissa Durrell, President of Durrell Communications and Uptown Waterloo Ward 7 City Councillor.


February 8
5:30 pm - 8:00 pm
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Community Engagement Team


The Tannery, 151 Charles Street W #100
Kitchener, Ontario N2G1H6 Canada
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