Meet Aara Amey-Ayer
York Region, Ontario
In this video, Aara speaks to hear entry into harm reduction and the challenges doing this work in York Region.
My name is Aara Amey-Ayer, and I work for the AIDS Committee of York Region in York, Ontario, and I’m the Harm Reduction Outreach Coordinator. I did Human Services Counselling at George Brown, which is now Social Service Worker.
I happened to be taught by a bunch of really progressive professors and harm reduction was a really natural fit for me. My mom was a public health nurse, my dad is a GP [General Practitioner] who does a lot of community-based work with clients who are HIV positive etc., so I grew up in a public health family, and harm reduction really spoke to me.
It’s really only been about a year and a half that we’ve had formal harm reduction programs in York. There’s an incredible… premium in York placed on everything looking beautiful, so there’s a cultural attitude in York around everything looking just so.
It’s a challenging environment because we have to seek out service users to offer resources because it’s not like being in an urban center where there is a potential service user on every corner.
And I think the other thing that I would say to people in York is that all of their precious beautiful children will grow into teens and adults with challenges. And that services like ours are going to be the ones to save kids’ lives. And the notion that everybody who’s doing well in York will continue to do well is mythology.
We don’t escape any of the mental health statistics or the addiction statistics because our front lawn is groomed.