Watch Justine talk about growing up, advocating for others, and why we shouldn't judge people's substance use.
I’m Justine. I work at Street Health Center – we’re based out of Kingston.
Because I’m funded through the Hep C Secretariat [Ontario Ministry of Health] I actually have quite a large catchment area, so I can cover a good majority of South Eastern Ontario.
I grew up in a home with somebody that really struggled with their mental health and substance use. From a young child, probably around 12, I used to follow him around and advocate for him because he could not advocate for himself.
I felt that if I had any type of voice, that by me not using it, I’m abusing that, so I continuously not only advocate for the people that use our services, but I advocate for myself.
We put way too much emphasis on choice. We have no idea people’s lives and backstories and what led them to using substances, to either cope, make the moment livable, get through the day – it doesn’t matter. We have no place in this society, or world, to demonize, or criminalize, or stigmatize somebody else, for something that doesn’t impact you personally.
So all them haters out there – get a grip.