Danya Fast

Assistant Professor

Research Classification

Research Interests

Substance Use
Substance Use Care
Adolescents and Young Adults
urban health
Urban Poverty
Medical Anthropology
East Africa

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs

Affiliations to Research Centres, Institutes & Clusters

Research Options

I am available and interested in collaborations (e.g. clusters, grants).
I am interested in and conduct interdisciplinary research.
I am interested in working with undergraduate students on research projects.

Research Methodology

qualitative methods
Arts-based methods
Community-Based Participatory Action Research


Master's students
Doctoral students
Postdoctoral Fellows
Any time / year round

I am currently recruiting incoming PhD students with strong backgrounds in qualitative, community-based participatory action, and/or anthropological methods who are passionate about doing research broadly focused on youth, substance use and care. Students will carve out an independent project as part of one of the following studies:

(1) The Treatment Trajectories Study explores young people’s substance use treatment trajectories and outcomes in the context of Vancouver’s expanding efforts to address the current overdose and COVID-19 crises. Through longitudinal qualitative interviews, ethnographic fieldwork and an experimental video project, we are documenting the evolving experiences of these young people and their service providers over time, as they navigate a rapidly transforming landscape of care

(2) The Care Pathways Study focuses on the experiences of younger youth (ages 14-18) as they navigate multiple systems of care and supervision, including the substance use service, criminal justice, government care, paediatric care and mental health care systems. Through longitudinal qualitative interviews and ethnographic fieldwork, we are documenting the evolving experiences of these young people and their service providers over time. As with the Treatment Trajectories Study, our goal is to create new knowledge that can directly inform ongoing efforts to deliver innovative substance use services to youth across Greater Vancouver.

More information can be found at:




I am interested in hiring Co-op students for research placements.
I am interested in supervising students to conduct interdisciplinary research.

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Graduate Student Supervision

Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Re-making selves and social worlds in adolescent substance use treatment : a qualitative study (2023)

Background: The toxic drug crisis in British Columbia, Canada has accelerated efforts to expand residential substance use treatment beds for young people between the ages of 14 and 19 in Greater Vancouver. While various barriers to accessing residential substance use treatment among young people who use drugs have been well documented in the literature, little research has examined how young people, and in particular adolescents, navigate and experience these treatment programs.Methods: This qualitative study draws on a critical phenomenological approach to describe and contextualize experiences and understandings of residential substance use treatment among 35 young people ages 14 to 19 in Vancouver. I thematically analyze data from in-depth, semi-structured interviews conducted with participants attending, just about to attend, or having previously attended “Cypress Place”, a local residential treatment center, between October 2019 and May 2021. Results: Findings underscore that young people are actively engaged in making, unmaking, and remaking their senses of self and social worlds prior to and throughout residential treatment. Many participants envisioned and experienced residential treatment as a time and space in which to actualize future selves. However, once they were in residential treatment, most young people encountered challenges in navigating past and ongoing traumas and complex social dynamics, which at times undermined their evolving self- and world-making projects.Conclusions: This study demonstrates how adolescents actively engage in re-making themselves and their social worlds in and across settings, allowing for a re-imagining of youth treatment and recovery programming and services that better align with the needs, priorities, and desires of young people themselves.

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Digital diaries and documenting queer lives in social isolation during covid-19 (2022)

The full abstract for this thesis is available in the body of the thesis, and will be available when the embargo expires.

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Pregnancy and early parenting trajectories among young people experiencing street-entrenchment: a qualitative study (2021)

Background: Qualitative research demonstrates that, among youth who use substances in the context of entrenched poverty and homelessness, pregnancy is often viewed as an event that could change the trajectories of their lives. However, young people’s desires and decision-making regarding how to make changes do not always align with the perspectives of various professionals and systems regarding how best to intervene. Methods: This study draws on 14 months of longitudinal qualitative interviews and ethnographic fieldwork with 16 youth (under 29 years of age) to explore how pregnancy and early parenting shaped their trajectories. Eight of the 16 participants self-identified as Indigenous. Findings: The young people who participated in this study described pregnancy as a life event that could stabilize tumultuous romantic relationships and deepen a sense of romantic love in the midst of the everyday emergencies of substance use, homelessness, and poverty. As “moral assemblages,” romantic relationships shaped decision-making surrounding pregnancy and parenting on the streets, including the decision of whether or not to enter treatment. Consistent with previous research, pregnancy was envisioned by youth as a turning point that might allow them to realize different kinds of futures. However, intervention by child protection, healthcare, and criminal justice systems were often at odds with what youth envisioned for themselves, their families, and the future. In particular, interventions that separated young couples were often perceived by youth as destabilizing the very relationships that they felt would allow them to successfully navigate a pregnancy and create a family. Conclusions: This study highlights how a disjuncture between youth’s decision-making surrounding pregnancy and parenting and the systems that are intended to help them can further entrench young parents in cycles of loss, defeat, and harm that can be powerfully racialized. Two young people were not in romantic relationships during their pregnancies and were better able to navigate child protection and healthcare system demands and draw on other kinds of social support to ultimately maintain custody of their children. However, these fragile success stories further underscore the need for structural interventions that provide access to housing and income among vulnerable young parents.

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