Last year Shambhala Music Festival had around 19,000 people in attendance— including staff, with wildfires nearby and still managed to get adequate information out to staff and those in attendance as information progressed about the potential for evacuation if the fire became an immediate threat. Luckily mother earth shined down on— or rained down on the festival rather, and the threat of a wildfire closing in on the festival on the last day was extinguished.
This is one extreme example of the degree of care, concern, and dedication that Shambhala takes when it comes to health and safety services— a page that others could learn a lot from. They truly are “a leader in health and safety standards in the North American festival industry.” Fire or not, their yearly services span from accessibility for the Shambha-abled— which supplies charging for motorized wheelchairs or other medical devices as well as a specific camping area for those with special needs, to the incredibly important harm reduction work they do with the help of AIDS Network Kootenay Outreach and Support Society (ANKORS).
ANKORS provides “free drug testing, harm reduction supplies, services and information about safer sex and partying” at Shambhala— actively advocating for and educating attendees on safe sex options and the importance of consent and potentially saving lives with their testing facilities on-site at Shambhala. Options is another on-site provider that drives home the importance and necessity for sexual health services at festivals as large as these and it is done like everything else at this wonderful festival— without judgement and for the greater good.
There is, of course, a full 24-hour medical staff as well as security at the festival but there are also options like the Sanctuary—a safe space to rest at or disappear to if need be. Whether the crowds have peaked your anxiety or you just need someone to talk to without judgment, the sanctuary is a good place to rest your dancing feet and re-energize. Another safe space, literally called “Safe Space” is much like the sanctuary but designed specifically with female-identifying, femme, and non-binary folks in mind.
We believe that supporting festivals that do not support us will only continue the current trend. Spending money on the artists themselves and on festivals that actively work to elevate your experience with safety in mind is important and Shambhala has gone above and beyond to do just that. Here’s to hoping that the rest of the festival circuit— and the world, can reflect this ideology soon as well.
If you are feeling giving and understand the importance of these health and safety services ANKORS is raising money to purchase a HPLC-UV(High Performance Liquid Chromotography-Ultra Viole). “This accurate tool will help to determine if Fentanyl is laced in substances, and eventually accurately determine all substances in a product.” their Go Fund Me states. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that caused the drug death rate to more than double between 2015 and 2016, which according to the New York Times, is “killing people at a faster rate than the H.I.V epidemic at its peak.”
Stay safe Shahmba-Fam. Give what you can to help save lives and see you on the farm!!