CN BC: Edu: A Passion for Social Justice

Newshawk: Congratulations Philippe
Pubdate: Mon, 14 Jun 2010
Source: Ring, The (U of Victoria, CN BC Edu)
Copyright: 2010 The Ring
Photo: Lucas with statue of Sir John A. MacDonald at Victoria City


Victoria City Councillor and Vancouver Island Compassion Society
founder Philippe Lucas has had his share of life experiences. Lucas
was exposed to hepatitis C through the tainted blood supply at age
12, but the condition was only diagnosed in 1995, the same year that
his father committed suicide. “Sometimes life makes choices for us,
and with the benefit of a little longevity we can see that even the
most adverse event or situation can lead to some positive outcomes,”
says Lucas, whose personal experiences with medical cannabis led him
to conduct a number of research projects on this topic over the last 15 years.

Graduating with a Master of Arts in Studies in Policy and Practice-an
interdisciplinary graduate program in the Faculty of Human and Social
Development aimed at those involved in social activism, human
services and community work-has provided an opportunity to “deepen
the theoretical underpinnings that form the base of progressive
reform efforts, particularly in the area of drug policy,” says Lucas.

Recipient of the 2007 UVic Blue and Gold award for community
contributions, Lucas has worked towards raising awareness on social
issues such as homelessness, drug policy reform and food security.
Currently a research affiliate and board member with the Centre for
Addictions Research of BC at UVic, Lucas says, “I have a passion for
work and research around progressive social change towards the
legitimization of a patient-centered, community-based approach to
medical cannabis.”

In 1999 he opened the Vancouver Island Compassion Society, a
non-profit medical cannabis research and distribution centre in
Victoria. He has testified in front of Senate and the House of
Commons on the issue of mandatory minimum sentences (Bill C-26 and
C-15) and was invited to share his research and experience on medical
cannabis access with Israel’s Ministry of Health.

“I believe that the letters at the end of your name really do have an
impact on policy direction and how seriously your research is
regarded in an academic setting,” says Lucas, who pursued an
education in liberal arts at Concordia, Carleton, Bishop’s and UBC,
but chose UVic in 1995 for its mid-size, beauty and academic
excellence. He completed a professional degree in education and went
on to teach English and drama in a local secondary school. An
increasing interest in social justice and harm reduction compelled
him to pursue an education that complemented research in an area
where few experienced researchers existed.

He credits UVic with another important milestone in his life. “Ten
years ago I had the fortune of meeting my wife through a conference
she was organizing at UVic. She has been an incredibly supportive
partner through many challenges and successes over the last 10
years-from lengthy court cases and election campaigns, to many years
of study at UVic,” says Lucas. He and his wife, Mary (MA 2001,
history in art), recently embarked on a retail business venture
called “Hip Baby” following another milestone-parenthood. Their
daughter was born one month before his election to Victoria City
Council in 2008.

Lucas will continue to champion the importance of social justice
through his work on harm reduction and environmental sustainability
on council and in the community.