Press Release – 09-27-2018

Back on Track Conference and 20th Anniversary Gala – December 1, 2017
December 9, 2017
What the Fentanyl Crisis Really Means
November 19, 2018

Odd Squad Back on Track conference will tackle the tough issues of drug use

‘Back on Track’ conference set for October 19

Vancouver, B.C. – With marijuana legalization on the horizon and the fentanyl crisis continuing, the Odd Squad Production Society is hosting its second Back on Track conference October 19. The grassroots organization founded by Vancouver beat cops in 1997 hosted the first Back on Track conference last year to celebrate its 20th anniversary, bringing in a dozen speakers addressing a broad range of topics about drug education, addiction, prevention, and treatment. “Perhaps the biggest thing to come out of our first Back on Track conference was the demand for more dialogue about the current issues in addiction and youth, particularly with marijuana,” said Toby Hinton, Odd Squad founding member and Executive Director. “With marijuana legalization forthcoming and the fentanyl crisis continuing, we knew it was important we make Back on Track an annual conference.”

This year’s confirmed speakers include:

  • Kevin Sabet (keynote address) – Former White House drug policy advisory, assistant professor adjunct at Yale University Medical School, fellow at Yale’s Institute for Social and Policy Studies, Director of the Drug Policy Institute, and co-founder of Smart Approaches to marijuana. Sabet will present Smoking out the Truth: Marijuana myths, facts, and the new pot industry;
  • Dr. Bill MacEwan, Head of Psychiatry at St. Paul’s Hospital, will present It’s a Strange New World - the effects of Marijuana and Fentanyl;
  • Dr. Marvin Krank, Professor of Psychology and former Deal of Graduate studies at UBC, will speak on Early school-based prevention of substance use initiation;
  • Doug Rogers, Substance Abuse Prevention Counselor at School District #22 (Vernon), will speak about Kids and Drugs: Are we helping or hurting
  • Jesse Miller, a social media expert, will speak about social media awareness, Internet safety, and online content evaluation.
  • Vancouver Police Department Sgt. Dave Instant will speak about the new marijuana laws.
  • Odd Squad members Mark Steinkampf and David Steverding will speak about the society’s fentanyl series and other current work;
  • Odd Squad members and VPD gang squad members Sandy Avelar and Anisha Parhar will speak about the Hertime gang prevention program

Formed after its founders filmed their first amateur documentary on the streets of the Downtown Eastside in 1997, the Odd Squad has evolved into a non-profit agency that films and produces educational videos for youth and law enforcement agencies and offers peer-to-peer and in-person educational programs to thousands of students, parents, teachers, and community groups in B.C. and across Canada each year. The group also puts on numerous in-person presentations every year, and actively works in gang prevention and exit strategy programs focused on young women.

The group is currently putting the finishing touches on a three-module video series about fentanyl that will be made available free to every school in B.C. Crafted over two years, the videos follow the escalating crisis in communities across B.C., showing first hand the devastation this drug can wreck on addicts and their loved ones. The videos come with a resource guide helping teachers present them to their classes.

The production was paid for by private donations raised at the Odd Squad Productions Society gala last year, as well as with the support of the Vancouver Police Department, the Vancouver Police Foundation, TELUS Community Fund, Save the World Foundation, and Odd Squad volunteers.

“This series is the only reality-based educational material about the fentanyl crisis we are aware of,” Hinton said. “We have come a long way from a group of beat cops working the Downtown Eastside who pooled our money for a video camera because we needed to do something about the very personal devastation caused by drug abuse we witnessed every day at work. The world has also changed. Youth today are facing new challenges with decisions about marijuana use and fentanyl-laced street drugs. With Back on Track, we aim to put on an event that will give youth and the educators, parents, healthcare and social workers, and law enforcement officers supporting them more tools to take on those challenges.”

The society is inviting police and other law enforcement officers, parents, educators, healthcare workers, politicians, and anyone else serving on the frontlines of these issues – or with an interest in the issues – to attend this year’s conference. The conference will be followed by the evening gala fundraiser.


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      The Odd Squad is a not-for-profit Charitable Foundation committed to educating youth about the perils of drug and substance abuse, the truth about gangs, the consequences of social media applications and other important community issues. Donations are not absorbed by bureaucratic overhead but go directly back into film productions, peer-to-peer programs and prevention education presentations that have been some of the most urgent clarion calls for societal change. The proceeds from the Conference and Gala Fundraising event will assist the Odd Squad in continuing this important work. Learn more about Odd Squad Productions Society, event tickets or sponsorship opportunities.

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