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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.

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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.

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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