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Philip Owen

$5,070.00 (raised so far)

About Philip Owen

Philip  Owen was Vancouver’s 36th mayor from 1993 to 2002, making him one of the city’s longest serving mayors. Born and raised in Vancouver, he completed his education at Prince of Wales Secondary School and later New York University. During his tenure as mayor, Owen was most noted for his championing of drug policy reform.

Owen led the implementation of the “Four Pillars” drug strategy during the peak of the HIV epidemic and overdose crisis in the 1990s, a novel strategy pioneered in Switzerland representing a tectonic shift from treating substance use as a criminal justice issue towards a public health approach. The strategy was developed in collaboration with community leaders, local businesses, service providers, researchers and policy experts, and introduced the then-controversial concept of harm reduction, alongside prevention, treatment, and enforcement. His efforts helped lead to the establishment of Insite, North America’s first sanctioned safe injection site.

The impact of your support

In honour of former Vancouver Mayor Philip Owen’s visionary approach to substance use and drug addiction, the St. Paul’s Foundation — with the support of Philip Owen’s friends and colleagues — has established the Philip Owen Professorship in Addiction Medicine at UBC. The professorship is the first of its kind in Canada, honouring Owen’s vision and commitment to addiction research, education, and training, which continue to be urgently needed today. The funds raised will be matched by UBC to create an endowment and a lasting legacy for Philip Owen’s work, by continuing his compassionate, public health approach.

Mayor Owen’s son, Chris Owen, said: “His legacy is something the whole family’s very proud of. He was a middle of the road fellow in all things he did in his life, and he went on his own personal journey regarding opioid addiction. It was a Christmas Day, and he went downtown and walked the Downtown Eastside — and as we know, addiction doesn’t observe high holidays. That’s when it seemed obvious to him that these people are ill, they’re suffering, and they need help.”

Messages of Remembrance

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  • Philip was mayor when I worked inside Security at City Hall, many times on my rounds I would encounter him in his office. He asked me to come in and sit down and we would talk about many things, his work my work, his involvement with the Anglican church as I was also Anglican attending a church in Cloverdale. We also spoke about one of our music favourites, Frank Sinatra. It was a pleasure to know him a very honourable and pleasurable gentleman

    don edy, Friend and Co-worker
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  • Dr. Lally Grauer

  • Alix Brown

  • Lisa Slater

  • Paisley Woodward

  • Judith and Poul Hansen

  • Sholto & Shirley Hebenton

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