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We Chat About All Things Harm Reduction, the Indigo Way (Interview)

Founder Shelby Young and her Boyfriend.

In Alberta, the need for harm reduction services has become prevalent. Since being officially established in June, Indigo has quickly sprung into action, having information booths set up at local club nights, amongst other things. Just two weeks ago, Young and company saved a life after a substance overdose at an event, calling the situation a real eye-opener for the community. [pullquote]”This has definitely created a bit of reality for the need of Indigo”.[/pullquote]
Describing the rave scene in Alberta, Young compares it to British Columbia’s- calling the two one in the same. “We are each other. If you go to any festival in B.C., you will find many Albertans” and vice-versa. Like Vancouver, festivals and clubs are plenty, and, as Young puts it, kick-ass. “The vibe is electric here in Edmonton and Calgary, and there is a lot of talented, cool people”. Unlike its’ neighbor to the west, Alberta’s rave issues extend beyond the scope of EDM- one of the reasons why Young wants to help promote good health in her community.

Indigo recently partnered with Alberta Health Services to provide naxoline kits and subsequent training (Photo: Indigo Harm Reduction on Facebook)

Calling Alberta the “Texas of Canada,” Young cites the oil industry as one of the reasons why drug use and violence is so common. Before taking a hit in 2015, the rise of the industry created a wild-wild west environment in Edmonton. Oil workers in northern rural Alberta would come down south to the city to party “super hard,” do drugs, and take drugs back to the fields up north to keep the party going. As with every action, there’s a reaction. The consequence here? Violence. Turf wars over trade broke out, and sexual assaults became far too common. “At one point, Edmonton was Canada’s murder capital.”

Things haven’t improved much in Edmonton-Alberta either. Last year, a staggering 2,880 sexual assault cases were reported. Gang tasks force roam the streets. Drug trades still happen, evident after the Edmonton police made the largest fentanyl pill seizure in Canadian history two weeks ago.

An Indigo Information Table at a local Edmonton Club (Photo: Indigo Harm Reduction on Facebook)

Because of her nursing license, Young’s work with Indigo falls under the scope of her practice.[pullquote align=”right”]”The industry here has been quite receptive to have our presence out here”.[/pullquote]Change of culture won’t happen overnight, but for her, something as simple as passing out free ear plugs is a start. “The future looks bright for us!” With such public support in such a very short time, including praise from elected officials, we couldn’t agree more.

For more information about Indigo Harm Reduction Services, check them out on Facebook! The group, currently a small team of five, also seeks volunteers to help with future event operations. If you’re interested in joining the cause send an email of interest to

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