SFU Molecular Biology & Biochemistry student Ryan Danroth grew up on k'omoks First Nation Reserve on Vancouver Island, dropped out of school in grade nine and returned five years later to receive his Adult Graduation Diploma. He received an entrance scholarship to SFU and moved to Vancouver in 2011.
Now working with the Aboriginal Front Door Society (AFDS) as a Harm Reduction Coordinator, he is providing educational materials and harm reduction media (such as clean needles and pipes, condoms and band-aids) to the homeless and addicted residents of the Downtown Eastside (DTES) in order to reduce new blood borne infections such as HIV and Hepatitis. He has been volunteering since August 2013.
They collaboratively work with Vancouver Coastal Health and receive supplies from the BC Center for Disease Control.
Aboriginal populations are at increased risk for HIV (we represent 3.3% of the Canadian population but make up 5-8% of prevalent HIV infections and 6-12% new infections in 2002 according to Health Canada) and there is an enrichment of Aboriginal residents in the Downtown Eastside, where injection drug use and survival sex work is rampant. This combination makes it especially important to have an Aboriginal-Specific approach to harm reduction and talking circles to combat stigma and share knowledge among Aboriginal residents in the Downtown Eastside.
Aboriginal Front Door Society also has circles and groups on women’s health, men’s health, street-smart skills and elders circles. We operate as a food bank and a place of sanctuary for Aboriginals in the Downtown Eastside and offer referrals to clients for other vital services in the area.
Welcome to the Aboriginal Front Door Society
Restoring respect, dignity and pride for Aboriginal Peoples
The Downtown Eastside is Canada's most impoverished postal code and the largest urban gathering place of Aboriginal peoples. Many residents of the Downtown Eastside suffer from the effects of more than 400 years of European contact, which includes the introduction of alcohol and the devastating effects of the Residential School System.
Pain, addiction, and homelessness are rife in the community. Residents face daily challenges of basic survival and are in constant transition.
The Aboriginal Front Door Society is a safe, non-judgmental place for Aboriginal Peoples in the Downtown East Side. We create hope and offer support through Aboriginal cultural traditions, caring and acceptance.
We are a meeting place and a drop-in centre with a welcoming environment, providing opportunities to learn more about Aboriginal Peoples and Culture. When necessary, we can also offer other services, such as serving as a crisis centre, brokering long term and specialty trauma counselling, and doing court accompaniments.
Our goal is to restore respect, dignity and pride to our members.
To Become a Volunteer
We’re currently looking for volunteers at AFDS and if you’re interested you can check out the website www.abfrontdoor.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d like to expand our Harm Reduction efforts to every working day of the week – so it’s integral I have more volunteers, and can work around your schedule.
If you’re interested in other components of AFDS feel free to email Mona Woodward, our executive director at email@example.com or call 604-697-5662
Aboriginal Front Door Society Fundraiser (Friday March, 30)