Tak­ing mes­sage about drug ODS straight to the top

Lo­cal mom out to high­light sto­ries of fam­i­lies trau­ma­tized by opi­oid ODS

Winnipeg Sun - - NEWS - DAVID LARKINS dlarkins@postmedia.com Twit­ter: @Larkin­swsun

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.”

JOYANNE PURSAGA/WINNIPEG SUN

Christine Dobbs, left, and Ar­lene Lastkolb, have each lost a son to a fen­tanyl over­dose.

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