About

The Mission

Our mission is to empower communities across Canada that aspire to improve social conditions. Our focus is on harm reduction, addiction, homelessness and social stability. We aim to accomplish this mission by reporting on a multitude of academic, philosophical and spiritual perspectives.

The Story

With a population approaching 45,000, Vernon, British Columbia is world-renowned for its stunning lakes and scenic landscape. It’s a beautiful city with a strong middle-class and thriving business community.

Vernon is also home to disproportionate levels of drug addiction, homelessness and social strain. These matters are highly visible in the downtown core and precipitate controversy and divided opinion.

Meanwhile, Shelby met Shawn by participating in one of his yoga classes. In becoming friends, they realized they shared similar interests related to social issues. They also noticed the local dialogue about the above topics were unhelpful at best and discouraging at worst.

Dubious theories. Plentiful myths. We humans sure crave simple answers to complicated questions.

How do we best support those in dire need? What is harm reduction and why does it matter? Are mainstream views of addiction too simplistic? Do the economic costs of improving social conditions outweigh downstream benefits?

These are hard questions, and they deserve meaningful exploration. We must embrace complexity if we are to forge a more cooperative path forward.

Shelby and Shawn started this platform to share their current understanding, using curiosity and research to light the way forward. They vow to ask the difficult questions and unpack relevant theories and viewpoints. They’re committed to challenging assumptions using expert testimony and established evidence whenever possible. They aspire to give a voice to the underrepresented people within our community.

Most importantly – they aim to be guides, not gods.

This blog should be seen as an engine for discourse on some of our most overlooked social issues. Shelby and Shawn welcome all feedback and engagement from local citizens and stakeholders.


The way forward is among us. Let’s open our hearts and find it together.

Biographies

Shelby Bouchard

Shelby has only spent four years away from his hometown of Vernon, BC. He grew up on a busy farm on the city’s outskirts, playing recreational sports in his free time. Completing just three University semesters after high school, an incessant hunger for knowledge emerged alongside activist inclinations. He would eventually leave school for the nomadic city life in Vancouver, gaining hospitality experience along the way. He then returned to Vernon two years later with professional ambitions.

Amassing five years of real estate and marketing experience, Shelby recently decided to head back to the academic world. He’s pursuing a degree in Sociology with plans to attend graduate school afterwards.

Shelby has a knack for insightful, inquisitive writing. He’s a bookworm with an empathetic mind. He feels his diagnosis of ADHD in 2018 was a gift, and remains committed to supporting others with the same diagnosis.

Shelby is a family man that loves spending time camping and hiking with his beautiful wife Samaya and their french bulldog, Penny. While not reading or writing, he enjoys running, yoga and training Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Shawn McMann

Shawn was born in Alberta and raised in Cranbrook, BC, growing up on a rural acreage. He has fond memories filled with sports and meaningful friendships. After high school, Shawn worked as a railroad engineer for over 16 years. During the latter stages of this vocation, Shawn began to struggle with alcohol dependence. He figured it wasn’t so bad at first, and managed to keep fulfilling obligations until the month arrived that would change his life forever.

At 31 years old, Shawn was diagnosed with cancer. Fatal prognosis. In the very same month, another close family member was diagnosed with cancer. Partying turned to medicating as he struggled to maintain homeostasis. His family member passed away as he survived, triggering survivors guilt.

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