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UCalgary Recovery Community opens physical space to support students in recovery

By Kimberly Taylor, April 11 2024—

On Feb. 28, the UCalgary Recovery Hub opened in Yamnuska Hall, next to the Subway. The hub is the home of the UCalgary Recovery Community (UCRC) and makes the University of Calgary the first post secondary institution in Alberta to have a physical space dedicated to supporting students, staff and faculty in recovery.

In an interview with the Gauntlet, Tabitha Pruden, project coordinator for UCRC and a registered social worker, shared that the Hub is not only a space for programming for those in recovery and allies, but also a space that fosters belonging.

“We know that there are a lot of barriers that [people in recovery] face, and if they are open about their recovery they can face a lot of stigma as well. So we really want a place for students and staff in recovery to feel like they belong. And also that they have a community to support them. They have people that they come to who have similar lived experiences as them and who they can reach out to if they need support or referrals.”

Pruden highlighted that UCRC offers several programs, volunteering opportunities for students, substance-free events, one on one meetings with a registered social worker, and drop ins Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m to 4:30 p.m. UCRC has an overarching goal of supporting students dealing with substance use.

“We really want to provide support for students who are in recovery or seeking recovery. We know that about 20 per cent of students in a University could qualify for a substance use disorder. So we really want to be there to provide that specialized support for students.”

Pruden highlighted that one of the ways to reduce the stigma of substance use and recovery is being visible to the entire campus community.

“Being visible helps reduce that stigma and so that people have a place to go and meet people in recovery or seeking those supports,” said Pruden. 

Pruden said that UCRC was founded by Dr. Victoria Burns in 2021 who has experience with substance use as a university student.

“This program culminated from the founder [who] is a professor at UCalgary Dr. Victoria Burns, she was a student and she was dealing with active addiction. Her story is that she had hoped these supports were in place for her when she had been a student. But now is hoping to put that out there for students today.”

Pruden also explained that many students on campus are in recovery.

“In 2022 there was the Canadian Campus Wellness survey and 11 per cent of UCalgary students identified as being in recovery, so that’s around 4,000 students. We’re trying to support them and say that it’s okay to tell people you’re in recovery because it’s something to be proud of. It shows your resilience, your determination [and] your strength as a person.”

To learn more about UCRC visit their website or Instagram.

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