On Thursday night, Joseph Fourre sat with his son and watched a Jets game with him for what would be the very last time.
And as he prepared on Friday to take his son off of life support, Joseph said he hopes his story can be a warning to others about the toxic drugs that, more and more, are making their way into this province, and destroying lives.
“We need to have a real and honest discussion at all levels about what we are going to do about this killer that is out there,” Joseph said over the phone on Friday morning, just hours before his son, 31-year-old Harlan Fourre, was to be taken off life support at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg.
According to Joseph, he and his son bonded for years over their love of the Winnipeg Jets, so one day before Harlan was to be taken off life support because of what Joseph said is a “catastrophic brain injury,” Joseph sat with him at the hospital and watched the Jets play their last game of the season on a hospital room TV.
He said while he was there on Thursday, he imagined the types of things Harlan would have been saying to him after the Jets had lost.
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“He was the one who would be saying, ‘it’s OK dad, they gave us a good run,’ he was the one that was always so positive.”
Harlan lived in Winnipeg, but had travelled to The Pas and was there last weekend to work on a job, as Joseph said Harlan was a career roofer, who often worked 15-hour days on job sites.
“This was a hard-working young man who loved life and loved the people around him,” Joseph said. “This was not someone with any history of drug addictions or issues, and that is why this has come as such a shock to everyone.”
Last Saturday, Joseph got the shocking news that his son was one of four people who police said were discovered unresponsive in a bathroom at an establishment in The Pas on Saturday night and one of six in total who overdosed at the establishment on Saturday.
Joseph said he now believes those who overdosed ingested drugs that could have been ecstasy that was laced with an opioid, although RCMP say samples of the drugs are still being tested, and they cannot yet confirm what the men ingested.
According to Joseph, emergency responders treated all the victims with naloxone, a medication used to counteract the effects of opioids, but while the others were revived and are now recovering, he said the naloxone did not work on his son.
Just days later, hospital staff told Joseph that his son was not going to recover from his injuries, and the family decided on Friday afternoon they would take him off life support and begin making funeral plans.
Joseph said although Harlan was someone who would hang out with friends and have a good time, he was never a drug addict, and he says he now believes his son simply made a terrible and fatal mistake.
“From the time I got word on Saturday, I just said, ‘that can’t be right. He’s not on drugs,’ and he should not have taken them, but they also had no idea what was really in them,” Joseph said.
He is also angry and frustrated because he said drug dealers continue to sell increasingly toxic drugs and drug combinations they know can kill the people they are selling them to.
“They know what they are giving that person, and that person does not know,” he said. “It’s just the purest form of greed.”
Joseph now hopes, if anything, his son’s story can be a warning to others about the kinds of drugs that are out there.
“I’m am telling parents out there to have a real and honest conversation with your children, and bring up my son’s story if you have to, because this stuff being sold on the streets, it’s a lot more potent than it ever used to be.
“This is far from being recreational drugs anymore, these drugs are killers.”
And as Joseph now prepares for his son’s funeral, he said he plans to continue speaking out about the dangers of drugs and opioids, because he hopes others won’t have to go through the kind of loss that he and his family are dealing with now.
“This could happen to anyone’s child, and it’s devastating,” Joseph said.
“We are not supposed to bury our children.”
This story was originally published in The Winnipeg Sun. It is republished under a Creative Commons license as part of the Local Journalism Initiative.
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