Shambhala at UBC Public Health Symposium

UBC Public Health Symposium (Riley G)

I had the pleasure of presenting work on Shambhala – an annual electronic dance music festival in the Kootenays of British Columbia – this past Saturday at the UBC Public Health Symposium. This festival is perhaps best known for it’s innovative approach to health and safety, particularly the integration of harm reduction services working alongside medical care. I’ve presented this work just a year prior, discussing how there was a lot of discovery still to come on how harm reduction and medical teams can optimize outcomes. At that time, the work was received with curiosity and many commenters were interested to see how the model at this festival would adapt and optimize based on this focused self-evaluation. On Saturday, the minds of public health had keen enthusiasm to contribute their own ideas and a common theme throughout was the idea that we ought to look at Vancouver’s own Insite Clinic for inspiration. The growing support for this public health success story reminds me that evidence-based evaluation of harm reduction strategies are indeed possible. How we can best apply the lessons of Insite to mass gathering research and ultimately to shift festival operations and health provision still remains elusive.


Riley Golby
Medical Student Year II
UBC MGM Club Executive