Melissa shares her family’s personal story of addiction and how harm reduction plays a much more significant role to recovery than people realize. She works in the trenches of the current opioid epidemic and her perspective to the issue. Melissa Byers is the Executive Director of Northreach Society, a harm reduction focused organization supporting vulnerable populations in Northern Alberta. Starting as a front line worker, she has seen the social changes that have come with the intensification of the opioid crisis.
Her leadership role at Northreach (then HIV North) began as opioid fatalities across Western Canada rose dramatically. She learnt quickly how to implement life-saving programs and how to navigate community crisis. The Northreach team has created a wrap-around care model supporting people who use drugs and people experiencing homelessness. Her passion lies in supporting all members of community.
A world traveler, Melissa has explored twenty-three different countries; her favorite being Tanzania. Her curiosity for people and culture was sparked as a teenager on her first trip to Mexico. This interest in understanding how other cultures live brought her to study anthropology on Vancouver Island. Her studies and travels have taught her how to connect with culture through a non-judgemental lens which has lent itself well to her professional career.
Melissa believes social change is possible and believes in the power of community based approaches to solve social issues. When we all work together, anything can happen. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx