"Gillian helped me to see patterns which were hidden in myself and keeping me from living in the present moment. My consultation with her came at the perfect time. It helped to move stuck mental and emotional energy, and gave me valuable tools to assist in transforming my life's path. It was such a joy to go through this in the compassionate and non-judgemental space that Gillian provides. I feel that her help accelerated my healing process on some very deep levels and I am still experiencing the benefits of the insights I had during our sessions. I would highly recommend her work to anyone who is ready to examine and do away with all that is in the way of stepping into one's true power."
From Huaraz, Peru
"Gillian has a way of being with people that both affirms them and invites them to consider the validity and impact of their beliefs. She is gentle, firm, curious, knowledgeable and a delight to work with. She is the perfect partner to engage people in serious thinking about tough societal issues."
Consultant, Trainer & Facilitator for Canadian School of Public Service
"It's hard to explain but it has to do with your assumption of intelligence on the part of the audience and the way you make connections between seemingly different areas of thought or inquiry. Like drawing on Goethe and Gandhi to make a point about supervised injection sites.
My sense is that you help people see what is new about a familiar situation, and what is familiar about new or different situations in part by making connections that startle people out of their particular little mindsets. Like talking about social services, passive resistance and, say, quantum physics in the same sentence. In the end, it makes for a richer understanding of the situation and more creative, enduring solutions."
Balfour Consulting Group Inc
Senator Larry Campbell
"Keeping the Door Open was a group of people who profoundly changed my views on drugs, addiction and policies. I can say without any hesitation that it was the discussions and backing from KDO that was the deciding factor in my running successfully for Mayor of Vancouver. The wealth of knowledge, the breadth of experience and the passion for health and safety made KDO the leader for advocating changes in drug policy. I will be forever grateful for their wisdom and advice..."
Senator Larry Campbell
"Gillian Maxwell is a beautiful and caring woman of principle, a dedicated advocate, volunteer and friend."
Vice President, Risk and Security Teck Resources & Chair, Product Stewardship Committee
"Gillian Maxwell is a quintessential connector, facilitator, and communicator with a profound commitment to social purpose issues. She has a natural affinity for bridging relationships between what, on the surface, may appear to be individuals of disparate opinions and interests. Above all else, she is a kind soul, with an open heart, embracing humanity. I am honoured to be a friend and professional colleague, having worked with her at Keeping the Door Open (KDO) for over 13 years."
Executive Director, Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation
"For many years Gillian Maxwell has been one of the most important figures in the successful development of Harm Reduction (HR) in Vancouver- and beyond. She has done much of the crucial organizing and publicizing of the many threads that have come together to make Vancouver synonymous with the close integration of professional efforts, governmental leadership, and grassroots community engagement. In addition she has played a key role in the growth of the international movement for a better understanding and increased support for HR worldwide. If there were to be a Nobel Prize for HR, Gillian would be a leading candidate."
Ernie Drucker, PhD
Professor Emeritus of Family and Social Medicine Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York
"What do I get out of working with you?
I feel supported, encouraged, and seen by you. I appreciate your thoughtfulness and thoroughness to stay abreast of my world in all areas,not just business details...you work wholistically and intuitively.
Since working with you my esteem is up, and my business has gradually increased, along with my income.
You reflect back to me the great gift I have to give, and remind me to 'just give it'...
Thank you for being in my corner. I am blessed to have you."
"Under Gillian’s leadership a fledgling Keeping the Door Open - Dialogues on Drug Use became the vehicle to facilitate public dialogue on drug policy in Vancouver. Gillian is the epitome of strategic creative thinking and in the process warm and empathetic. Over a ten-year period I had the greatest pleasure working with Gillian to create these dialogues."
BN, MSc, RN (Retired) Adjunct Professor, School of Nursing University of British Columbia, Board Member, Dr Peter AIDS Foundation
"I have worked with Gillian on facilitating knowledge exchange between medical professionals from Eastern Europe and their peers in Vancouver. Gillian is a natural mediator; she is able to diffuse the tensions and facilitate a dialogue when the differences seem too great to overcome. She builds bridges and forms meaningful connections, liaising like-minded people locally and globally. Her strength is her highly observant and analytical nature, coupled with compassion and empathy that instantly put people at ease in her presence."
Former Program Officer at the International Harm Reduction Development Program at the Open Society Foundations
"Gillian Maxwell is a community builder. She makes it her business to challenge others to discuss, think about and take action on issues that are often ignored. She does so with a determined mind and an open heart. She is unafraid of controversy; she welcomes disagreement and she believes in dialogue to create understanding. Our community is stronger because of people like Gillian - constantly out there working for change."
Journalist/Adjunct Professor, University of British Columbia Graduate School of Journalism
"Gillian is infectiously motivated by a deep and visionary sense of social justice. Her ability to identify key causes, and to rally and organize able and enthusiastic supporters makes her a most effective change agent. She is a rare Maven in that she is also a fabulous Connector, and she does it all with a unique Maxwell blend of radiance and style. I feel blessed to have been swept into her benevolent wake on more than one cause, and am more aware, involved and contributing as a result."
Professional Integral Coach™, Facilitator & Consultant
Dr. Perry Kendall
"I have had the privilege of knowing Gillian Maxwell for over 10 years. She has been an influential and respected community leader and advocate for the adoption of knowledge based drug policy, practical and humane responses to drug addiction and in addition has shown strong and continued personal commitment and dedication to building and supporting meaningful community capacity."
Dr. Perry Kendall
BC Provincial Health Officer, Canada
"I've known and worked with Gillian Maxwell for a number of years, and she's a social justice champion and progressive change-maker. With a grace and intellect, she challenges policies that lead to unnecessary suffering, finding and promoting solutions for the betterment of her community and society as a whole."
Former City Councillor of Victoria, Researcher, Proprietor - Compassionate Consulting
"Gillian Maxwell is on a journey to change the world. At the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition she is helping us shift the way in which people who use illegal drugs are treated. Our society has been fighting a war on drugs and those who use them for over 50 years, with catastrophic outcomes. We are lucky to have her on our team. Her positive and supportive energy, fearlessness, passion for justice and human rights drive her towards connecting people, places and ideas to bring about a new way to see the problems and solutions. Check her out! She's a gem."
Executive Director, Canadian Drug Policy Coalition
"We live in times in which it is so easy to be preoccupied and distracted by our hectic schedules. Gillian, however, has a rare ability to be present. She is right there with you at any given moment, and in her presence you feel supported, accepted and cared for. This magnificent quality is accompanied by her discerning judgement and expertise in seeking creative solutions."
Global Drug Policy Program - Open Society Foundations
"Gillian Maxwell is a gentle but powerful, creative and highly informed broker of truth and information on all subjects related to drug policy. Her commitment is to a compassionate, evidence-based and scientifically grounded approach to drugs and to how society views and responds to the challenges of drug use and drug addiction. I have found it a pleasure and privilege to work with Gillian and look forward to doing so whenever the opportunity presents itself."
Gabor Maté, MD
Author of "In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction"
Dr. Julio Montaner
"I have watched Gillian’s community involvement grow and deepen over the years. Among her many contributions, the one that always stood out for me was her dedication to educating policy makers and the public about substance use and harm reduction initiatives in her role as chair of Keeping the Door Open: Dialogues on Drug Use. She is knowledgeable and respected, and has become a popular presenter at international HIV/AIDS and drug policy events. Gillian is a great example of how each one us can channel our passion, creativity and compassion in a way that can help us make a difference."
Dr. Julio Montaner
Director of the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, Director of IDC & Physician Program Director for HIV/AIDS PHC
Gail T. Muise
"Our work with Gillian has helped us to manifest our dream of living in a wonderful, environmentally aware, supportive community, in the dream home that we created together. Gillian's caring and respectful approach allowed us to bring forth the necessary elements to accomplish this long term goal. As we looked back on the work that we did together, it was apparent that we manifested everything that we had indicated that we wanted in our sessions. Thank you Gillian!"
Gail T. Muise
Registered Career Counsellor and Facilitator
"When I think of Vancouver and who to call, I immediately contact Gillian to find out. She is extremely well connected with the diverse group of players in the drug policy reform world in her local environment, nationally and internationally. From a street entrenched person to an elected official, Gillian is at ease with whomever she meets, and they with her."
Founder & Executive Director, Drug Policy Alliance, USA
"There is no one better equipped than Gillian Maxwell for awakening and leading others to live into the new paradigm. She is an inspirational being, already simply and gracefully embodying this vital fresh reality. Gillian walks her talk with conviction and integrity! I have every confidence that anyone who is drawn to work with her will flourish."
Ph.D. Facilitator, Senior Faculty - The Haven Institute
Senator Pierre Claude Nolin
"Gillian is a key person in the community of people working in Vancouver for positive change in how we view problematic drug use. She is able to link people up and convey new ideas across the spectrum of society, which has contributed to Vancouver being a leader in Canada and the world in pragmatic thinking and policy on the social determinants of addiction."
Senator Pierre Claude Nolin
"I have known Gillian Maxwell for nearly two decades and she has always worked hard to improve Public Health and Public Order in the DTES of Vancouver which has led to improved quality of life for addicted and impoverished citizens. During my nine years as Mayor she was a great and consistent resource. In addition, she has organized many study groups and tours to inform people about the serious social issues in Vancouver."
Former Mayor of Vancouver, BC, Canada
"I worked with Gillian Maxwell during a period of transition from one occupation to another. I found her to be professional and insightful, with an easygoing manner that was comforting. She was able to ask probing questions that clearly showed both practical and strategic thinking. In particular, she provided guidance on how to plan for the future, in a step-by-step manner. She asked the right questions to elicit the underlying issues for me. Her pragmatism was helpful in crafting both shorter range and long range plans."
Wayne Ralph, MA
Author & Photographer
"Gillian's special gift is in enabling very different groups to work together in ways that honour the distinctiveness of each while realizing their joint potential. She helps people explore the world of possibilities - to sense the future in the present, to discover the familiar in the novel, and to see oneself with new eyes."
Independent Consultant & Facilitator for Canadian School of Public Service
"Gillian invests her life in making the world a better place. She does this by building connections. Her network of contacts spans the globe and includes an unbelievable array of interests and backgrounds. So much has happened through the many relationships incubated within that network; I don’t suppose it is even possible to calculate her influence."
Centre for Addictions Research of BC
"I was feeling quite disorganized and unable to move my plans forward in a constructive way. Gillian's assistance has been brilliant. I've been able to get my business on a forward tract and much more productive than it was. At the same time, Gillian has helped me to manage more effectively all those other complexities of life. Gillian's services are a must for all of us who struggle with the competing demands of life and the desire to get ahead and be successful."
"SafeGames2010 provided Vancouver’s Olympic visitors with safer ways to be part of the Olympic spirit. Leading up to the Olympics and during the festivities I had the pleasure of working alongside Gillian Maxwell, her assistant Sarah Spencer and the many SafeGames2010 volunteers. I gained an appreciation for Gillian’s vision, her confidence and her extraordinary ability to build successful partnerships which I believe contributed to the success of this initiative."
HIV Training and Education, BC Centre for Disease Control
"Gillian Maxwell has played an important role in helping Vancouver achieve a more understanding and innovative approach to the important issue of addiction. Her hard work in developing community support and public education and humanizing the condition of our fellow citizens who are suffering from this has been very effective in catalyzing change."
Former Mayor of Vancouver, Current MLA Vancouver False Creek, BC
"One of Gillian's greatest strengths is her clarity. She has long known that solutions to the problems facing society are not going to be solved with laws or rules mandating behaviour. Making a paradigm shift is rarely easy or popular, but Gillian understands we can't legislate kindness or compassion. The concept that society will be judged by how it treats the weakest is surely a guiding principle she has followed. We need people like Gillian who are willing to stand up and stand out, advocating solutions that will genuinely work. I feel privileged to be counted as one of her colleagues."
Lynn Sumida, MSW/RSW
President and Founder of Miruspoint Facilitators Inc.
"I met Gillian Maxwell in 2005. She was a godsend. At the time I was going through a very hard time in my life. My husband had just died and I was trying to get my life back on track. As a member of VANDU we were invited to join in meetings of Keeping the Door Open which Gillian was chair of. I started going as liaison for VANDU. Over the next year Gillian took an interest in me and showed me what I was capable of. She asked me to speak at an event at the Wosk Centre. I had never done anything like that before and it was scary. But with her support and guidance I became a star.
In the years to come she took me to my first conference in Toronto where I gave a presentation and was asked to light a candle at the international candlelight vigil. There have been many more special events in my life thanks to her support and caring. If I had to pick one person who has shaped my life into what it is today I would have to say Gillian Maxwell. She has the heart of an angel and the spirit of a warrior."
Executive Secretary, Vancouver Area of Drug Users (VANDU)
"Gillian Maxwell, currently of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, was our featured speaker in 2008 in our Concordia Community Lecture Series on HIV/AIDS, a prestige forum that has been a regular feature of the Montreal scene since 1993.
Then working with the Vancouver safe injection site “Insite” Ms. Maxwell spoke on “Insite: The Right to Healthcare for Injection Drug Users” and focused on harm reduction and the favourable outcomes of the “Insite” experiment.
Our interdisciplinary roster over the years has included both a Nobel and a Pulitzer laureate, as well as many international experts in many fields. Ms. Maxwell’s lecture was one of our most successful over the years and has not been forgotten. Her analysis of her controversial topic and her personal insights into its history and social stakes, based on her exemplary and courageous community-based work and advocacy, were delivered in an eloquent, clear, impassioned and authoritative manner that inspired students and community members alike.
We recommend her highly, and hope that she will come back to Concordia for a repeat performance in the near future."
PhD, Director Concordia HIV/AIDS Project, Professor & University Chair