Truth. The pursuit of this five-letter word is the responsibility of every post-secondary institution: to seek truths that are sometimes universal, often personal and occasionally just plain controversial.
Petra Schulz never planned to be a harm reduction advocate, but her life changed forever on April 30, 2014 when she and her husband discovered their son Danny’s body on the bathroom floor of his apartment. He had injected what he believed to be “street oxycodone,” but what turned out to be a deadly dose of a then little-known drug called fentanyl. Since that day, she has been sharing her personal story and working to change the way we look at substance abuse.
Leading up to the event, we’re asking our TEDxMacEwanU presenters some questions about truth. Here's what Petra had to say.
Which truth do you think we, as a society, struggle with most?
We carry a lot of prejudice about issues we haven't thought about or faced ourselves, including substance use. It can be hard to distinguish the truth from our own opinions and feelings. Thousands of people die from overdoses in Canada every year and so few people seem to understand the issues or truly care.
Why does truth matter today?
Social media exposes us to a lot of propaganda and fake news. We need to critically examine information and form our own opinions based on evidence.
What's the most meaningful truth someone has ever shared with you?
An academic who does a lot of research on substance use prevention once told me that people who have lived with substance use and their families are the real experts on drug policy. Our knowledge isn't acquired, it's lived.
What was your moment of truth?
Realizing that no matter how much advocacy I do, nothing will bring Danny back. What I do is for all of you and your children.
We acknowledge that the land on which we gather in Treaty Six Territory is the traditional gathering place for many Indigenous people. We honour and respect the history, languages, ceremonies and culture of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit who call this territory home.