top of page

2023 Western Canada Addiction Forum

Coming Together.

Building Connections.

Challenging our Differences.

Registration is open for our 2024 Addiction Forum

May 31 to June 1 in Kelowna, BC.

  • X
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn

2023 Effectuating Change in the Field Award Recipients:

Dr. Julie Samson and Dr. Louisa Marion-Bellemare

Drs. Samson and Marion-Bellemare have selected the Timmins and District Hospital Foundation Withdrawal Management Program to receive their $10,000 prize from WCAF.⁠

These two doctors are an inspiration. Their passion, hard work and drive to create the change needed to support those experiencing opioid use disorder is truly inspirational and worthy of this year’s Effectuating Change award.⁠

2023 Early Career Leadership Award Recipient:

Dr. Martha Ignaszewski

Dr. Ignaszewski has selected Watari Counselling and Support Services in Vancouver, as the organization to receive her $2,500 prize donation from WCAF.⁠

Her clinical expertise in concurrent disorders and OUD management, impressive interpersonal teaching and mentoring skills, and passion for her work in responding to the overdose crisis all contribute to her being the applauded recipient of this year’s award.⁠

2023 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient:

Dr. Nady el-Guebaly

Dr. el-Guebaly has selected The Impact Society, in Calgary, as the organization to receive his $2,500 prize donation from WCAF.⁠

His clinical expertise and ability to connect with patients, making them feel seen, heard and valued combined with the extensive contributions to our field all contribute to why the WCAF chose Dr. el-Guebaly as the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.⁠

PAUL BRANDT, Our 2023 Keynote Speaker.

Paul Brandt is the Founder of #NotInMyCity, one of Canada’s leading initiatives combatting Human Trafficking, as well as the former Premier appointed Chair of the Alberta Human Trafficking Task Force.

​Country Music Hall of Fame Member Paul Brandt weaves in storytelling along with his hit songs to lead audiences to a deeper understanding of one of Canada’s fasted growing crimes.  He will speak about the Progressive Nature of Vulnerability and how Human Trafficking, Mental Health & Addictions, and Housing Insecurity among other influencing factors, can lead to an increased risk to individuals of being trafficked.

Become an Ally

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube

Follow Paul Brandt

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • YouTube

Our 2023 Distinguished Speakers

Dr. Charissa Patricelli


A family physician with a Fellowship in Addiction Medicine. She is the Director of Perinatal Addictions at BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre and Medical Director of the Families in Recovery (FIR) program. FIR is a leader in providing obstetrical, medical, harm reduction, stabilization and recovery oriented care for pregnant and newly delivered women in a mother baby dyad togetherness model. Dr. Patricelli has been a leader in the development and integration of the FIR research program, and an enhanced model of care for mothers and newborns impacted by substance use disorder. She is passionate about learning together with interprofessional teams and enhancing our healthcare system to deliver patient and family centred compassionate care.

Keith King


Keith King (He/They) is a Michif Ayahkwew (Two Spirit) from Notikewin, Alberta in Treaty 8 territory. They are currently living in Amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton, Alberta) where they are enrolled in the PhD program with the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Alberta. Here, they are working with the Metis Nation of Alberta to explore HPV-related cancer prevention across the homeland. They are also an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Alberta, and a sessional instructor at MacEwan University. Keith an oskapiew to Dr. Elder Grandmother Doreen Spence, from Saddle Lake Cree Nation, a member of Lii Taab Otapisimiwak, and works closely with the Health Department at the Metis Nation of Alberta. Keith also volunteers with a number of communities including the Metis Nation of Alberta, Metis Nation of Ontario, the Manitoba Metis Federation, the Edmonton 2Spirit Society, and various charities. Keith is a former board director of the Pain Society of Alberta, and a co-founder of the Alberta Pain Strategy, inviting diverse community voices to the field of pain, and a trauma-informed, recovery-oriented perspective in his work.

Keir Macdonald


Keir is the Chief Executive Officer of Coast Mental Health, a multi-service agency dedicated to providing support, advocacy and promoting the recovery of people with mental illness. Keir previously held the role of Chief Executive Officer with Phoenix Society which is recognized as an organization that operates one of the largest recovery communities in Canada. The organization co-locates bed based substance use treatment, housing, employment and education services all on one campus of care. Prior to joining the Phoenix Society, Keir worked for several years with Lookout Housing & Health Society, where he held the positions of Deputy Executive Director and later Chief Operating Officer. In this role he guided Lookout’s operations through the onset of British Columbia’s public health emergency in 2016, rapidly scaling up harm reduction interventions in Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria. Keir was born in Canberra, Australia and is a graduate of the Australian National University where he holds a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Laws and a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice. More recently, Keir completed his MBA at the Simon Fraser University and the Advanced Health Leadership Program with the Rotman School of Business in Toronto. He is a purpose-driven and entrepreneurial senior executive with extensive progressive leadership with a specific focus on homelessness services, housing and health programs. Keir is most passionate about working to develop services for people facing barriers related to substance use, mental health and poverty.

Dr. David Crockford


A Clinical Professor with the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Calgary. He is a consulting psychiatrist to the Foothills Medical Centre Addiction Program, Early Psychosis Intervention Program, and Adult Psychosis Program, treating patients with concurrent disorders. He is certified in Addiction Medicine by the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine, is on their board of directors and is Deputy Editor of the Canadian Journal of Addiction. His published work focuses on education in addiction, gambling disorder, functional brain neuroimaging, and concurrent psychiatric and substance use disorders. He is the past Chair of the Addictions Section for the Canadian Psychiatric Association as well as prior International Area Director and International Member-at-Large for the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry. He is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and Distinguished Fellow of the Canadian Psychiatric Association.

Dr. Julius Elefante


A psychiatrist and a Clinical Assistant Professor with the University of British Columbia, completed his medical degree and residency in psychiatry at UBC, an addiction medicine fellowship through Saint Paul’s Hospital, and a postdoctoral research fellowship at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. He currently works at Saint Paul’s Hospital and Vancouver General Hospital in the areas of consultation-liaison, acute, concurrent disorders, and general adult psychiatry. Before medicine, he worked as a registered nurse for several years.

Dr. Robert Fox


Dr. Fox is a family physician and addiction medicine specialist in a rural indigenous community. He understands the challenges of integrating addictions into primary care. He enjoys learning about other’s solutions and sharing his own. He completed his MD at the University of Alberta and Family Medicine residency at Queen’s University. After thirteen years in practice he took a sabbatical year to complete the St. Paul’s Hospital Addiction Medicine Fellowship. He is passionate about integrating addictions care into his Family Practice. He also provided addictions consultations for Fraser Health’s Riverstone outpatient addictions clinic for three years. He is now the consulting primary care and addictions specialist at A’yelexw Centre for Hope and Healing, an adult treatment centre on Seabird Island First Nation and at Traverse, a youth treatment in Chilliwack. He has also hosted the BCCSU “Addiction Medicine Podcast” and served on the working committee to develop British Columbia’s High Risk Drinking and Alcohol Use Disorder Guidelines.

Dr. Philip Tibbo

B.Sc. (Hons) 

Dr. Tibbo received his B.Sc. (Hons) from Mount Alison University in Sackville, NB, and his MD from Memorial University of Newfoundland. He completed his residency in psychiatry at the University of Alberta and following this joined the staff at the University of Alberta Hospital as a clinician and researcher. He was instrumental in the development of and co-directed both the Bebensee Schizophrenia Research Unit and the Edmonton Early Psychosis Intervention Clinic. In 2008 Dr. Tibbo was named the first Dr. Paul Janssen Chair in Psychotic Disorders, an endowed research chair, at Dalhousie University in Halifax NS. He is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry with a cross-appointment in Psychology and Neuroscience at Dalhousie University. He is Director of Research for the Department of Psychiatry at Dalhousie and Clinical Director of the provincial Early Psychosis Intervention Nova Scotia (EPINS) program for Nova Scotia Health. Dr Tibbo is President of the Canadian Consortium for Early Intervention in Psychosis (CCEIP), helping to advance early intervention care at the national level. Dr. Tibbo’s publications are primarily in the area of schizophrenia with his current foci of study including individuals at the early phase of, and at risk for, a psychotic illness. Dr. Tibbo’s areas of research include application of in vivo brain neuroimaging techniques to study psychosis as well as research interests in co-morbidities in schizophrenia (primarily substance misuse and psychosis), pathways to care/service delivery, education, and non- pharmacological treatment options. He is funded by local and national peer reviewed funding agencies and well published in leading journals. Dr Tibbo was a recipient of the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health’s Champion of Mental Health Research award in 2017 and the 2018 Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada Prix d’Excellence - Specialist of the Year (region 5).

Dr. Ken Tupper


Director of Substance Use Prevention and Harm Reduction in the BC Ministry of Health, where he works with health authorities and other key health system partners to develop, implement and monitor provincial health policy to prevent and respond to problematic drug use and associated harms. From 2013-2017, Kenneth was a member of the Methadone Maintenance Committee of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia. In addition to his almost 20 years of experience in public health policy development, Kenneth has published in numerous peer reviewed academic journals, presented at international health and drug policy conferences, and has twice been appointed to Canadian delegations to high-level United Nations international drug policy meetings.

Sarah Rush


Social Worker at BC Children’s Hospital Substance Use Response and Facilitation Program (SURF). Sarah has over a decade of experience as a registered Social Worker, providing clinical support to children, youth, and adults, with a specialization in substance use. Her passion is working with youth with concurrent disorders and supporting families in navigating our health care system. Sarah’s clinical skills have been informed by a wide range of inpatient and outpatient settings in Vancouver, including Heartwood Center for Women, St. Paul’s Rapid Access Addiction Clinic (RAAC), and Pender Community Health Clinic. Most recently, Sarah has worked in consultation teams at BC Children’s Hospital, including the Compass Program and the SURF Team. Sarah is guided by the principles of trauma-informed practice, client-centered care, and anti-oppressive theory. Beyond client based services, Sarah runs education workshops for service providers and lawyers on topics including children rights, trauma informed practice and child and youth mental health. Sarah developed a provincial wide program that provides legal rights education to high school youth. Sarah is trained in a variety of evidence based treatment approaches such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Motivational Interviewing, Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), Emotion Focused Family Therapy (EFFT), mindfulness and play therapy. In her spare time, Sarah loves to kayak, read, cross country ski, and create puppet shows.

Dr. James Wang


James Wang is a pediatrician and Adolescent Medicine subspecialist based in Vancouver, where he completed his post-graduate training at BC Children's Hospital. He is currently completing his fellowship at the BC Centre on Substance Use and will become the first Canadian-trained pediatric specialist in Addiction Medicine.

Dr. Nick Mathew


Dr. Mathew completed an addiction psychiatry fellowship at Yale University and a forensic psychiatry fellowship at the University of British Columbia. He is board certified in addiction psychiatry, addiction medicine and forensic psychiatry. He is a clinical associate professor at the University of British Columbia. All opinions expressed are his own and not affiliated to any organization.

Dr. Launette Rieb


A family physician and Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia. She is certified in Addiction Medicine in the US and Canada. She was the co-creator and initial physician director of BC’s first Addiction Medicine Fellowship. Dr. Rieb has over 35 publications in the areas of pain and addiction. She is on staff at St. Paul’s Hospital and works clinically at ActumHealth where she is a consultant within an interprofessional team that treats injured workers with concurrent pain, addiction, and mental health issues. Dr. Rieb is the recipient of the BC College of Family Physicians Exceptional Teacher Honour.

Dr. Martha Ignaszewski


A Harvard and UCSF trained psychiatrist with board certification in Adult, Addiction, and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in Canada and the USA. She is the Clinical Lead of the Substance Use Response and Facilitation (SURF) Service at BC Children’s and Women’s Hospital, and works on the Complex Pain and Addiction Service (CPAS) at Vancouver General Hospital. Currently, Dr. Ignaszewski is the Education Lead for the VGH CPAS service, and Director of Fellowships and Off-Service Postgrad Education for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at BCCH relating to her interest in medical education and working with learners across the educational spectrum. Destigmatization of addiction, the intersection between addiction and concurrent disorders, and providing an understanding about the developmental perspective and impacts of social determinants of health on substance use disorders are areas of focus with learners and clinically. Dr. Ignaszewski possesses a background in clinical excellence, research and has held many leadership positions including ongoing roles with the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP) and American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP). She has received many awards in recognition of her clinical education including the ASAM Ruth Fox Scholarship Award, the AACAP Educational Outreach Program Award for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Residents and the Stuart J. Goldman Psychiatry Education Award, among others. Dr. Ignaszewski has been a speaker at national conferences including the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting, the California Society of Addiction Medicine, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Meeting, and the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, and served on the Scientific Program Committee for the 2020 Virtual Annual Conference. She has authored 33 peer reviewed publications and abstracts in notable journals.​

Dr. Annabel Mead


Physician (Specialist in Addiction Medicine)

Practicing addiction medicine for over 20 years with expertise in women’s health, concurrent psychiatric disorders and pain management. She is a Fellow of the Australasian Chapter of Addiction Medicine, a diplomate of the American Board of Addiction Medicine and Clinical Assistant Professor, UBC. Dr. Mead has worked in many community, inpatient and outpatient treatment settings in Vancouver. These include the Addiction Medicine Consult Service at St Paul’s Hospital and New Dawn Recovery House. She holds the positions of Senior Medical Director, Mental Health and Substance Use, BC Women’s Hospital; Medical Director for BC Correctional Health Services and is the medical lead for the BC Provincial Perinatal Substance Use program.

Dr. Atul Khullar

MD, MSc, FRCPC, DABPN (Cert. Sleep Medicine), FAASM

A psychiatrist and sleep specialist who focuses on the integrative management of obesity, sleep, mood/anxiety and attention deficit disorders in age groups from adolescence onwards. Recently, he has gained expertise in the selective use of ketamine for resistant mood disorders. He completed his medical school and residency at the University of Alberta, and a sleep and mood/anxiety disorders fellowship at the University of Toronto. He has additional pediatric sleep medicine training from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Khullar is board-certified in Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine in both Canada and the United States. He is also a fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, Diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine, and a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Alberta. Actively involved in research and education, Dr. Khullar has given more than 600 invited presentations to public and professional audiences worldwide. He has published a number of articles and chapters as well as chaired more than 20 national CME programs in his specialized areas. Currently, he is the medical director of the Northern Alberta Sleep Clinic in Edmonton. Dr. Khullar is also a senior consultant for the Grey Nuns Hospital, the Edmonton Oilers, the Newly Institute and MedSleep, a Canada-wide network of community sleep clinics. He has also worked with the Canadian Winter Olympic team in the past.

Dr. Milan Khara


Dr. Milan Khara joined Vancouver Coastal Health in 2003 having previously worked as an Addiction Medicine Consultant at CAMH in Toronto. Certified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, his current work primarily focuses on treating tobacco use disorder but also extends into other areas of tobacco control. Clinical commitments include leading the Vancouver General Hospital Smoking Cessation Clinic. Dr. Khara has also been involved in the training of health care professionals to optimally treat tobacco use disorder including supporting the CAMH TEACH project. More recently, he has been involved in initiatives to combat the rise in electronic cigarette use in high schools, speaking with legislators, educators, students and parents. He is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia. Research interests have mainly focused on “hard to treat” populations and have been published in medical journals. Dr. Khara has also been involved in many areas of tobacco control advocacy including providing testimony in challenges to smoke- free legislation. He has also appeared as an expert witness before the Standing Committee on Health to contribute to the development of a federal regulatory framework for electronic cigarettes.

Dr. Pouya Azar


Dr. Pouya Azar is the Head of the Complex Pain and Addiction Service (CPAS), a consult service under the Department of Psychiatry at Vancouver Coastal Health, which provides management of pain, mental health disorders, and substance use disorders across all clinical services at Vancouver General Hospital, UBC Hospital, and GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre. He is also the Addiction Lead at Foundry Vancouver Granville, a consulting physician for adolescent addiction medicine at BC Children’s Hospital, a consulting physician for psychiatry and addiction medicine at British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, a consulting physician for the VGH Transitional Pain Clinic and a clinical instructor at the UBC Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Azar’s clinical and translational research focuses on the development of novel opioid agonist therapy initiation protocols.

Our 2023 Planning Committee

Dr. Rob Tanguay

Conference Co-Chair
Calgary, Alberta

Dr. Annabel Mead

Conference Co-Chair
Vancouver, British Columbia

Dr. George Budd

PharmD, FBCCSU, B.Sc.(Pharm), RPEBC, R.Ph
Vancouver, British Columbia

Robert De Clark

Victoria, British Columbia

Joan Hollihan

Calgary, Alberta

Dr. Morris Markentin

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Reconciliation Comes First

The Western Canada Addiction Forum would like to acknowledge the land on which we gather is the unceded territory of the Syilx (Okanagan) Peoples. The Syilx Okanagan Nation and their peoples have taken care of their homelands for thousands of years.


WCAF is respectful of the Syilx Okanagan Nation and their peoples, their knowledge, language, and history, as well as their ongoing relationship to the land and natural world.

Contact Us

We'll be in contact soon!

Recovery Redefined


Delta Grand Okanagan

Kelowna, BC


May 31 - June 1 2024

The Western Canada Addiction Forum (WCAF) celebrates those who are innovating in opioid use disorder care and is honored to offer the following three awards related to innovation and recognizing lifetime achievement, early career leadership, and effectuating change in the field.

We acknowledge and thank Indivior Canada for the sponsorship that has supported the Western Canada Addiction Forum to be able to provide the three awards related to Innovation in Opioid Use Disorder Care and recognizing excellence in our field.

2023 Innovation in Opioid Use Disorder Care Awards

bottom of page