Opioid meeting draws hundreds to Kanata Recreation Complex

Hundreds of people from across the city turned out for a public meeting in Kanata on the growing opioid crisis.

Officials with Ottawa Public Health, the Youth Services Bureau, the Dave Smith Treatment Centre, Ottawa Police, Ottawa Paramedics and several city councillors were on hand Monday night to answer questions from concerned parents and members of the public.

Councillor Allan Hubley spearheaded the event as a way to inform the public about overdoses and the services available to people using drugs.

Cindy Manor’s son, Hunter, started using drugs at age 17 after a hockey accident. She said she came to talk to other parents about her experience and to help end the stigma and shame around drug use and abuse, especially among teenagers.

“We kept telling him we loved him and we forgave him for what he did because the shame was so bad for him,” she said.” At the end of the day, the children need to be educated.”

Manor’s son has been clean for 11 months and she credits his improvements with greater communication.

“I needed to drop the shame. Once I dropped the shame there were so many other resources available,” she said.

Many at the meeting wanted to learn more about the size of the issue in Ottawa, the early warning signs of a drug addiction and tips on how to talk to kids about drugs. Many also raised concerns about a lack of detox beds and rehab facilities in the city specifically catered to teenagers and young adults.

The public event on the issue comes almost two weeks after a Kanata teenager died of a drug overdose. Police believe 14-year-old Chloe Kotvall died after taking a Percocet laced with fentanyl. The same combination of drugs is believed to have killed another Kanata teenager in December, 18-year-old Teslin Russell.

Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordleau says officers need the community's help to try and track down these drug producers and traffickers. He says those individuals could face manslaughter charges if caught.

"I think that's what we're looking for. If we can trace back some of these pills," he said.

Just hours before the information session at the Kanata Recreation Complex, Bordeleau confirmed another individual, a man in his twenties, died of a drug overdose in downtown Ottawa this weekend.

"We've had other overdoses across the city. It's not a geographic issue, it's not an age issue but it is certainly very concerning when you have young people, the age of 14, taking these kinds of pills and not knowing what is in them."

Councillor Hubley did not rule out a future meeting of a similar nature.