The Liam Project: Student-led harm reduction initiative launches in memory of a loved one

Two years to the date after their friend died from a drug overdose, three University of Calgary students launched a harm-reduction platform to honour his memory and educate for safer drug use.

The Liam Project, created by students Alex Ewanyshyn, Claire Hadford and Annabelle MacRae, went online Jan. 23 with a mission to “enact positive change” in memory of Liam, who fatally overdosed in 2019 after struggling with substance use throughout high school.

What began as a project for a pitch competition at the university transformed into a social media initiative, in which the trio shares educational posts on Instagram to reduce stigma surrounding substance use, educate on safer consumption and connect locals with community resources.

The group said using harm reduction as their focus helps support people at different points in their life, whether they are trying drugs for the first time or deep in their addiction. It’s the “compassionate approach,” they said, and one that is free from stigma, which can prevent people from accessing life-saving resources.

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