Common Ground Program

The following programs are currently part of the Common Ground Program.

COUNTERfit Cooking is a community kitchen program that engages its members in cooking, conversation and meal sharing. On a weekly basis group members - people who use drugs and/or have mental health issues - meet to prepare a meal, share nutritional and harm reduction information, discuss food insecurity issues facing the community, and finally share the meal that everyone has prepared. Goals for the group are to:

  • increase intake of healthy foods
  • reduce social isolation/build social connectedness/increase self-esteem
  • increase understanding of food preparation, balanced and healthy eating, and the politics of food security
  • increase physical activity

Grief and Loss Education and Action Project engages women who are past or current drug users and who have had children apprehended by CAS in the sharing of lived experiences, coping strategies, artmaking, and action planning to work toward creating a transformed child welfare system and to shift how child welfare works with families affected by drug use. Each year, we run a 15-week closed group for women. There is also an ongoing monthly group for graduates of the 15-week group. The monthly group provides ongoing support to women and focuses on education and action-oriented goals. Monthly group members have participated in several public speaking engagements at St. Mike’s Hospital, Toronto Public Health, York University, Metro Hall, Houselink, and the Harm Reduction Coalition Conference in Austin, Texas. We are currently exploring creative movement and drama as vehicles to share women’s stories and to increase skills and ease in public speaking. Desired goals for the project are to:

  • increase coping knowledge related to grief and loss
  • enable opportunity for creative expression and artmaking
  • increase knowledge to support one-self and others in dealing with custody loss
  • increase mutual support/acknowledgement of loss by women with similar lived experiences
  • reduce social isolation/build social connectedness/increase self-esteem
  • enhance public speaking skills for public awareness raising workshops and presentations
  • increase skill in expressing and articulating complex issues of child welfare practice to the broader community
  • transform how the child welfare system work with families affected by drug use

COUNTERfit Drug Users’ Memorial Project at South Riverdale Community Health Centre  was established in 2010 as a remembrance, healing and community arts initiative to build an 8-foot copper flame monument commemorating loved ones who have died in the War on Drugs. By building this important monument we want to remember our friends who have died. We also want to express our rage at this war and the many people who have been killed in our city from drug overdoses, poverty, violence and complications from HIV and Hepatitis C - many of whom are people living in poverty, people from racialized communities, sex workers and/or people with mental health struggles. We demand an end to the War on Drugs and to policies and structures that produce and reproduce inequalities, stigma and discrimination toward people who use drugs and their families. We have been planning and conceptualizing the monument’s artistic form with direction from local metal artist and printmaker, Rocky Dobey.  In early 2012, we moved ahead with plans to build our 8-foot copper monument thanks to the generous financial assistance from the Ontario Arts Council, the Ontario HIV Treatment NetworkFucked Up and other local artists. Since March 2012, community members have been gathering weekly to create art and engrave copper panels. The monument’s panels are being covered with engraved images, words and symbols that express our collective rage and resistance to this War, and also celebrate and remember the lives of loved ones we’ve lost. We hope to unveil the memorial monument at an event in late 2012. Goals for the project are to:

  • enable opportunity for creative expression and artmaking
  • create inclusive spaces for rituals, grieving and support following loss of a community member
  • increase skill in expressing and articulating complex impacts of Drug War policies to the broader community
  • reduce social isolation/build social connectedness/increase self-esteem
  • create public awareness of preventable deaths resulting from Drug War policies


Program Offered in the Following Languages: 
Program Location: 
955 Queen Street East 1st Floor
Program Time and Hours: 
Vary (please enquire).
Program Contact: 

Carol Lee

(416) 461-1925, ext. 232 or
Are appointments required for this program?: 
Do participants need to register for this program?: