Umbrella Project

The Umbrella Project is Carleton University’s Harm Reduction strategy which aims to reduce stigma and promote safer substance use through education, outreach and support. It is inspired by and operates in partnership with the Algonquin College Umbrella Project that began in 2015.

The CU Umbrella Project seeks to create a safer space for the discussion of the impacts of alcohol and other substances and to provide resources to reduce the potential for harms caused by substance use. This work is achieved through partnerships with several campus and community partners and is overseen by the Office of Student Affairs. By uniting the efforts of various campus and community partners under a single recognizable logo, the CU Umbrella Project hopes to increase engagement and awareness about substance use and stigma in our community.

Why the Umbrella?

An umbrella is an example of an everyday harm reduction tool that people use when it is raining to avoid getting wet. Its use is intended to illustrate that harm reduction is something people practice in one way or another in everyday life. It is also important to recognize that every individual’s journey with substances or addiction is unique and as a result, there are many different strategies, tools, and supports that fall under the umbrella of harm reduction. The use of the umbrella is meant to emphasize that reducing harm does not need to be ccomplicated and that, while there is no one-size-fits-all approach to reducing the harms associated with substance use, there are strategies, tools, and supports available to assist with safer use and improved health outcomes.

CU Umbrella Project Goals

  1. Reduce stigma surrounding substance use and addiction in the Carleton community.
  2. Provide training and education about safer substance use and addiction to the Carleton community.
  3. Conduct outreach and provide support to those impacted by substance use or addiction.

CU Umbrella Project Guiding Principals

  1. Agency and self-determination: Abstinence is not the only approach to substance use and should never be seen as the singular goal of any initiative or program. It is accepted that people may choose to use substances; the focus should instead be on how to increase safety through awareness of risks and benefits of a given choice.
  2. Non-Judgemental approach: An individual’s decision to engage in substance use or to use a particular substance bears no weight on their moral character or personhood. Every person, abstinent or not, is deserving of dignity, respect, and support, free of judgement or assumptions.
  3. Peer Support and Education: The engagement and participation of peers should be encouraged as much as possible and is a key driver in the elimination of stigma. It is important to include the voices of those with lived and living experience and to give members of the Carleton community the opportunity to learn and heal alongside one another. Peer groups should be supported to the fullest extent possible and peer to peer learning opportunities should be prioritized where possible. This means involving members in the community in the creation and implementation of new materials and initiatives.
  4. Partnership is essential: The effects of substance use, addiction, and stigma are complex and far reaching. Collaboration with campus and community partners will provide the most comprehensive and well-resourced response to these issues on campus and lead to the best possible outcomes for the members of our community. The Umbrella Project will continuously seek new partnerships and ways to contribute to ongoing initiatives to better respond to the needs of the campus community.


The Umbrella Project is fortunate to have the support of several campus and community partners to support the goal of promoting safer substance use and reducing stigma. The CU Umbrella project would like to express sincere gratitude and appreciation to the following partners for their support and dedication:

Internal partners

  • CU Heath Promotion
  • Carleton University Students Association
  • #StigmaEndsAtCU
  • Housing and Residence Life Services
  • Campus Safety Services
  • Dr. Kim Hellemans and the Department of Neuroscience
  • Carleton Healthy Workplace
  • Student Experience Office

Community partnerships

  • Community Additions Peer Support Association (CAPSA)
  • Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA)
  • Algonquin College
  • University of Ottawa
  • Ottawa Public Heath
  • Naloxone Care

The CU Umbrella Project is always looking for new partnerships to expand the supports and resources available to the Carleton community. If you are interested in getting involved, please reach out to the Manager of Student Conduct and Harm Reduction, Dillon Brady.