Addictions Don't Discriminate

Addictions Don’t Discriminate is an in-person interactive exhibit in Edmonton, Alberta, that takes participants on the journeys of real people whose lives have been impacted by addiction.

The exhibit is designed to inspire understanding, empathy and action.

No one is destined from birth to develop an addiction. So why will approximately 6 million Canadians find themselves experiencing addiction at some point in their lives, while others can use substances without their use becoming problematic?

Addiction is often seen as a moral failing or character flaw, but research shows that like many chronic illnesses, there is a combination of genetic, developmental, social, and environmental factors that influence a person’s lived experience and their likelihood of developing an addiction.

Addiction is a common term used to describe the problematic use of a substance to the point where it greatly interferes with someone's life, and continues in spite of negative consequences.

Meet the Storytellers

Through the power of storytelling, this exhibit offers a glimpse into the complex world of addiction, uncovering the human experience that lies beneath the statistics and stigma. Six unique stories, showcased in connection to one another, push us to look beyond someone’s substance use and into the lived experience of each individual with empathy and compassion, to help us understand that Addictions Don’t Discriminate.

Addictions Don't Discriminate Storyteller Ethan

Ethan

Ethan is a genuine and fierce advocate in the community. He has been a survivor since he was five, and for a while his anger had control over his life. Today he uses his voice as an advocate so that others don’t feel the pain he did.
“My anger started showing up. I was mad at the world. It was like no one saw me. How could no one see what was happening to me?”

Nicole

(Spirit Woman)

Nicole is a loving, caring mother of six. At a young age Nicole began using substances to cope with the effects of intergenerational trauma passed through her family. Today she is a hopeful woman who is motivated by her connection to others, to faith, and to the Creator.

“I struggled with the loss of my Kokum and as I entered teenage years using alcohol started for me. I was rebellious. I was known in the community as an alcoholic, it was very hard for my parents.”
Addictions Don't Discriminate Storyteller Nicole
Addictions Don't Discriminate Storyteller Tyler

Tyler

Tyler is a hard working plumber who loves his job. After suffering an injury and undergoing surgery, Tyler found himself dependent on the opioids that helped ease his pain.
“The use of drugs was something I had never experienced before. I didn’t realize how easily one could get addicted. I was living with guilt"

Vanessa

(Mountain View Woman)
Vanessa is a proud Indigenous woman with a beautiful heart. She loves spending time with her family, sewing, drumming, and learning her culture’s teachings. Vanessa is motivated by those around her and gives back to the community through her outreach work today.
“My grandparents both went to residential school. My dad was a troubled guy, in and out of jail. I never got to know my mother, I was raised by my grandparents.”
Addictions Don't Discriminate Storyteller Vanessa
Alcohol is by far the most common drug used by Canadians
Addictions Don't Discriminate Storyteller Jordan

Jordan

Jordan is a kind-hearted, talented and fun loving person who began to struggle with his mental health in adolescence. Jordan used drugs to get through many tough losses and experiences in his life. Today he hopes to live in a world governed by what is best for people.
"In high school I found that I could enjoy my life more with drugs. I used ecstasy and would feel better without shame for 4 hours at a time.”

Hugh

Hugh is motivated by his culture and his family. He has worked hard to get to where he is today and will never take his family for granted again. Hugh’s hero is his grandmother, who he says made everyone around her feel loved.
"From my early years, I got used to alcoholic behaviour, drug use, abusive relationships, unemployment, hanging out - it seemed normal to me. I thought all families/communities lived like that."
Addictions Don't Discriminate Storyteller Hugh

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the exhibit available?

Launch Event 

(November 5-9th 2021, Stanley A. Milner Library,  7 Sir Winston Churchill Square)

  • Friday November 5th (10am-6pm) 
  • Saturday November 6th (10am-6pm) 
  • Sunday November 7th (1pm-5pm)
  • Monday Nov 8th (10am-7pm) 
  • Tuesday Nov 9 (10am-7pm)

Naloxone training will be available hourly starting at 12pm (1pm on Sunday) 

Community Events 

Following the launch of the event we will be offering the opportunity for organizations and community groups around Edmonton to apply to host the exhibit in their neighbourhood. 

Subscribe to our mailing list to get further updates on the exhibit. 

What are the COVID-19 safety protocols in place?

For the launch event from November 5th -9th please see what restrictions are in place at Stanley A. Milner HERE.

What is the purpose of the event?

The exhibit aims to increase empathy and reduce stigma towards those experiencing addiction, create a better understanding about addiction, offer information on the supports and services available to Edmontonians, and mobilize a community response. 

Stigma is one of the main reasons people avoid treatment and support. Together with our partners, we are working to break the stigma, by providing information about addiction, addressing the judgments about people who use drugs, and providing a safe, supportive environment for people to seek help, all through sharing real stories of lived experience.

How long does it take to walk through the event?

The exhibit shares six stories of lived experience along with information on contributing factors. If you would like to take in each story, you can expect the experience to take at least 60 minutes.  

Is there sensitive content?

Many of the stories shared in the exhibit include experiences of trauma including incidents of childhood sexual abuse, overdose, and suicide. This information may be upsetting for some. We will have support staff available if participants are impacted by the content. Although the stories share many difficult experiences, they also share messages of hope, strength and resilience.

What do I do if I feel upset by the content?

Talk to one of the volunteers on staff to debrief your experience or contact the mental health helpline at 1-877-303-2642. 

How can I have the exhibit come to my neighbourhood?

Following the launch of the event we will be offering the opportunity for organizations and community groups around Edmonton to apply to host the exhibit in their neighbourhood. We designed the exhibit to be mobile for this reason. 

Please fill out our Hosting Request to apply. 

For general inquiries related to the exhibit please email [email protected]

Subscribe to our mailing list

For addiction and mental health support call the Addiction and Mental Health Helpline at

(toll free within Alberta)

Partners and Funders

EPL Logo

The exhibit is now available to be booked by your organization, school, or community league!