Petra Schulz, Edmonton, AB and Mayne Island, BC

Petra lost her youngest child Danny to an accidental Fentanyl overdose in 2014. Danny was 25 years old.  Danny loved to spend time with his family and friends, especially if it involved cooking a good meal. He was trained as a chef and worked in some of Edmonton’s best restaurants. He loved to play music with his friends, wrote some of his own lyrics and treasured getting together at the family cottage.  Through the lessons learned from her personal experience and by sharing Danny's story Petra has become an advocate for drug policy reform aimed at reducing the harm associated with substance use.

Petra has spoken at harm reduction meetings in Edmonton and in PEI (2015), at a community symposium on Fentanyl (Edmonton, 2015) and the Fentanyl Conference for first responders  and police (Edmonton & Calgary, 2016), at Overdose Awareness Day events in Edmonton (2015 & 2016), and at a research symposium (CRISM Prairies, Calgary, 2016).  She has organized and was a speaker at a forum on the opioid crisis at MacEwan University (2017) and is participating in a research project in the role of mothers's advocacy in drug policy reform.  As part of the research project Petra presented at  forum on a family focus on substance use at the University of Alberta (2017). Every academic year she shares her family’s experience and what she has learned with nursing students at MacEwan University and the University of Alberta, as well with community groups and other parents.

As a member of the Access to Medically Supervised Injection Services Edmonton (AMSISE) working group, she contributed to the implementation of the first supervised consumption services of in her home city.  In this role she, and other members of the group have met with senior officials of the Government of Alberta, Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services, the City of Edmonton, Edmonton Police Services and many other community stake holders.

Since June 2017 Petra has been appointed to the Alberta Government Minister’s Opioid Emergency Response Commission (MOERC) as a representative for community advocacy groups. As part of its mandate, the Commission is responsible for making recommendations to the Minister for timely coordinated actions to address opioid use and related issues.

Petra hopes that the expansion of harm reduction services in Alberta and the rest of Canada will leave a lasting legacy in memory of her son Danny.  Danny felt strongly about organ donation, now he is donating his story.

Petra’s website, with more of Danny’s story and her advocacy work is

Danny Schulz, January 13, 1989 - April 30, 2014.

CTV Alberta Prime Time, September 15, 2016

Petra Schulz shares the story her son Danny's struggle with substance use and how she has translated her personal loss into advocacy with the MSTH mothers. In part 2 of this video, Dr. David Swann explains how only a comprehensive harm reduction approach will help abate the overdose crisis.

Petra Schulz

Petra Schulz

Danny Schulz

Danny Schulz

Petra Schulz

Petra Schulz


Stollery Children’s Hospital Research Day, Edmonton, November, 2018. “From Grief to Advocacy – Lessons Learned from Losing Danny”

Stimulus Conference - Drugs, Policy and Practice in Canada, Edmonton, AB. October, 2018. Oral presentations (peer reviewed abstracts) “Helping Families Cope with Grief & Trauma” and “Building Capacity, Supporting, and Learning From Families Affected by Substance Use”. Co-organized and participated in panel for public satellite symposium “How Can Communities Support Families Affected by the Opioid Crisis?”

Sturgeon Hospital Nursing Professional Development Day, St. Albert, AB, October 2018. “Lesson’s learned from losing Danny”.

Alberta Health Services Board of Directors Retreat - Edmonton, AB, July 2018. “The family experience in substance use and family advocacy”

CPLPNA Conference - Shifting Reality - Edmonton AB, May, 2018. Panelist in "Strategies in a time of Crisis – Opioids and Harm Reduction"

Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Ottawa, ON, March 2018. 2018 Law Enforcement Roundtable on Canada’s Opioid Crisis. Presentation and panelist in "Setting the Stage – the National, Regional and International Picture".  

13th Covenant Health Research Day. February, 2018, Edmonton, AB.  Oral presentation "Working towards a family-centered approach to addressing substance use". Schulz, P. Morris, H., Haines-Saah, R., Jenkins, E., May, D., & Hyshka, E. (2017).

Facilitated Community harm reduction workshop with MSTH Lorna Thomas. Kanai First Nation, Standoff, AB. November 2017.

Health Canada. Ottawa, ON, September, 2017. Presentation  and discussion to Health Portfolio Opioids Working Group.

Speaker at International Overdose Awareness Day.  Edmonton, AB on  August 31, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

John Humphrey Ignite Change Conference. Edmonton, AB, August, 2017. Plenary presentation. "Painful lessons learned from losing Danny to the opioid crisis".

Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse (CRISM) | Prairies conference. Calgary, AB, June 2017. Panellist at public discussion forum. "Kids and Drugs: What parents need to know". 

MacEwan University Visiting Lecture Series: The Opioid Crisis: Challenges, Risks, and Opportunities. Edmonton, AB, February 2017. Member of session planning committee, presentation and panellist.

ALERT Fentanyl Conference for police and law enforcement. Edmonton and Calgary, AB,  October 2016.  Plenary presentation "Lessons learned from losing Danny",

Student Advocates for Public Health, Edmonton, AB. March, 2016. Presentation and panelist. 

Harm Reduction: A Family Focus, Prince Edward Island October, 2015. Member of plenary panel.

13th Alberta Harm Reduction Conference, Edmonton, June  2015.   "New Perspectives on Illegal Drugs".  Member of plenary panel.   


Painkiller delves into the opioid epidemic. It features interviews with families (including Petra Schulz talking about Danny’s story and the work of MSTH) who have lost loved ones, as well as healthcare workers and policy experts who question a health system that favours corporate profits over patients.