The Mission

Our mission is to empower communities across Canada working to improve social conditions. Our focus is on issues of harm reduction, addiction, homelessness and social inequality. 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 relating to social issues. They also noticed the local dialogue about the above topics was generally unproductive.

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 Outdated myths.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

How do we best support those in need? Are mainstream views of addiction too simplistic? What is harm reduction and what is its promise? What are the true costs of homelessness, mental illness and economic inequality?

These are loaded questions deserving of more meaningful exploration. We all need to embrace the complexity if we wish 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 difficult questions and unpack relevant theories and viewpoints. They’re committed to challenging assumptions using expert testimony and established evidence whenever possible, updating their views when new research arises.

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

This blog should be seen as an engine for discourse on some of our most undervalued 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.

The People

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. A short stint in University studying political science revealed a perpetual hunger for knowledge and meaningful discourse. Though, he simply wasn’t ready to take on the academic world at that time. He would eventually leave school for a nomadic city life in Vancouver, gaining hospitality experience along the way. He returned to Vernon two years later with professional ambitions.

Amassing five years of real estate and marketing experience, Shelby followed his heart back to the academic world. He’s currently pursuing a degree in Sociology and plans to attend graduate school afterwards.

Shelby is a bookworm with a knack for creative, insightful writing. He sees his 2018 diagnosis of ADHD as a genuine gift and remains committed to supporting others with the same diagnosis.

Shelby is also 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 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 of that time filled with sports and a rich social life. 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, Shawn was diagnosed with cancer, with another close family member also being diagnosed less than a month later. Partying became medicating in the struggle to maintain homeostasis.

It would be many years before managed to pick himself back up and change the narrative, and he also achieved remission from cancer.

Fast forward to 2008, Shawn attended his first yoga class. What started as a sporadic activity turned into a full-blown love affair. Yoga became a redemptive force and to this day, is integral in his ongoing recovery.

Shawn received his 200-hour yoga teacher certification in 2016 and is the current owner of One Yoga Vernon. He specializes in teaching foundational poses with an emphasis on posture, breath-work and mindfulness.