Fentanyl forum draws concerned Winnipeggers in the midst of an opiod crisis

More than a hundred people packed into the fifth Addictions Foundation Manitoba forum in Winnipeg Wednesday. Zahra Premji / Global News

WINNIPEG — It was standing room only at the 5th Addictions Foundation Manitoba fentanyl and other drugs forum Wednesday night.

The library at Vincent Massey Collegiate was packed on both levels as concerned family members, friends, worried community members, and educators came out to learn more about a drug that’s making its mark in Manitoba.

READ MORE: Manitoba launches fentanyl public awareness campaign

Wednesday’s forum was a part of a series of community forums being held across the province to learn about a drug, that until recently, was so foreign to many.

A drug that one mother said she knew nothing about until it was too late.

Jessie Kolb (on the far left) died from a fentanyl overdose in 2014. Arlene Last-Kolb

Arlene Last-Kolb said she lost her son Jessie to a fentanyl overdose in 2014.

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“He was his dad’s best friend. I mean we will never get over the loss of our son ever, and I wouldn’t want to have anyone go through what we’re going through,” Last-Kolb said.

Last-Kolb said she came out to the forum because she wants to use her son’s death to educate others and to be a part of the conversation moving towards putting a stop to the deaths associated with fentanyl, carfentanil, and other drugs.

RELATED: Being on fentanyl is like ‘hell on earth’, says former addict from Winnipeg

Her sentiments were echoed by Dr. Sheri Fandrey with Addictions Foundation Manitoba. One of the presenters at the forum and an advocate for opening up the conversation when it comes to fentanyl and other drugs.

“Really, the best weapon we have to try to keep ourselves safe is information and talking to each other about it,” Fandrey said.

Others in attendance at the forum said they were there for a variety of reasons.

RELATED: 3 found dead from suspected fentanyl exposure in Winnipeg home, police say

One high school student said she attended because she was tired of seeing the destruction and tragedy drugs have brought to her family and she wants to know what to do to help save her brother before it’s too late.

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The forums will continue to take place across the province for three more sessions.

The next one is set for 7 p.m. Thursday at Garden City Collegiate.

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