Taking message about drug ODS straight to the top
Local mom out to highlight stories of families traumatized by opioid ODS
A Winnipeg woman who has become a vocal advocate in the fight against opioids wants her son’s story seen by the highest office in the land.
Arlene Last-kolb, whose son Jesse died in 2014 of a fentanyl overdose, sent 160 individual envelopes containing a letter and a photo of her son to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office, an act she said will honour her child while keeping the stories of families impacted by opioid overdoses front and centre.
Last-kolb said she settled on 160 to represent the number of people on average who are impacted when someone dies. The initiative was spearheaded by a group called Moms Stop The Harm, a Canadian grassroots organization that raises awareness of addictions issues.
“These things that we do as families are extremely difficult,” she said. “But I do it because I feel it’s important, I feel that it’s something that I’ve said right from the beginning that if it could happen to me, it could happen to you.”
Last-kolb said a stigma still exists around fentanyl victims that paints a picture of “homelessness and people using needles on the streets.”
“That was not my son,” she said, “and I’ve met many, many families in Manitoba and that was not their children.”
Last-kolb said she’s been encouraged by the efforts of government and law enforcement in “doing everything they can” in the fight against opioid addictions.
Last-kolb said more funding would be the primary need from the federal government, but she wants the mailout initiative to humanize the problem.
“I believe that the last piece that we need here in Manitoba is a medically-assisted detox centre, opioid replacement, long-term service,” she said.
“Federally to the Prime Minister, we would want money to be put into services and awareness, and to just touch base with him and remind him about how many people are affected by what is going on right now. This is an epidemic and we all need help.”
Christine Dobbs, left, and Arlene Lastkolb, have each lost a son to a fentanyl overdose.