The St. James Parish Council yesterday (January 18) handed over space in the Charles Gordon market to the Area One Police for the setting up of a police post. The approximately 264 square feet of space is part of a complete facility, which was built at a cost of approximately $3.2 million. Mayor of Montego Bay and Chairman of the St. James Parish Council, Councillor Glendon Harris, in his comments at the brief handing over ceremony, noted that the establishment of the police post at the market, located on Fustic Road, is part of a plan to attract more visitors to the facility. “We need to make this, as is the case in most other jurisdictions, that the local fruits and vegetable market/food market is an attraction,” he stated. He said that the St James Parish Council has embarked on a concerted effort to put order into vending at the market, which has brought back some amount of civility and dignity to shopping at the facility, noting that even tour buses have started to revisit the market. “I invite every well-thinking citizen of the parish to come and assist us in ensuring that the Charles Gordon Market is a place of pride,” he stated, while also calling for the full support of the vendors. Assistant Commissioner of Police in Charge of Area one, Devon Watkis, in accepting the facility, informed that a team of approximately 14 police personnel will be posted there. He said they will be tasked with ensuring that consumers and vendors can conduct business in a safe and secure environment so as to enhance commerce. Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott, in his address, emphasised the importance of conforming to the laws of the land regarding the proper disposal of garbage. He said that a stringent system of prosecution will begin soon to cut down on public littering. “Whether it is a sweetie paper, a bottle, or a bag or garbage itself, we are going to begin a process to enforce the law, because we have to bring decency and sanity to the country,” he stated. The Minister commended the St. James Parish Council for providing space for the police post and gave a commitment to assist “as far as resources will allow”, the move to make the market environment safer. President of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Devon Crump, in his remarks, promised some furniture for the new police post.
Brandi Morin, APTN National News“Call an ambulance! Someone call an ambulance!”Brad Provost was sitting in the dark theatre high off a recent hit of fentanyl he had snorted in the bathroom with his girlfriend.She was in a different theatre watching a movie with Provost’s cousins and had since come into the theatre where Provost sat a few times to wake him up after he had nodded off.When he assured her he was ok, she went back to her seat.The next thing he recalled was his cousin rushing in and yelling, “She’s not waking up! Your girlfriend’s not waking up!”She had stopped breathing and lay there for about 20 minutes before anyone noticed.A fentanyl overdose is a silent killer.It comes in the form of deep relaxation and causes the user to feel extreme fatigue. It looks like the victim is sleeping, but their organs are shutting down.They’re dying.Provost said he sprang to his feet as adrenaline rushed through his veins overbearing the drugs in his system.He ran over to the next theatre to see his girlfriend passed out in the chair not moving, or breathing. He pulled her over to the aisle and began performing CPR. He said it was a frightening scene. She gave no response as vomit began spilling out of her nostrils.“Call an ambulance! Someone call an ambulance!” he shouted.According to Provost, his girlfriend had overdosed before, but she had always pulled through.During the ride in the ambulance to the hospital, Provost prayed for the best.They had plans to turn their lives around. They were going to leave the drug infused streets of Lethbridge, Alta., and go to live on the Blood Tribe reserve – a place where they would have a roof over their heads.They talked about their plans to get off the drugs and be together, healthy and strong.It was the one decision to make the stop at the drug dealers and head to the movies before they left town that changed everything.Although emergency responders were able to get her heart going again, the odds weren’t good.For two days Provost said he stayed sober and sat by his girlfriend’s side in intensive care.His girlfriend’s family started arriving along with tensions toward Provost. They soon asked him to leave and to this day blame him for what happened to her.One day later she died at age 37.“I lost her…they (her family) don’t understand. It’s been almost two years now. I have no idea why they’re blaming me. I pray and hope they get over it,” said Provost.Brad ProvostAfter a two-week drug fueled rampage following her death, Provost said he wanted to get clean.He chose to get it over with. Cold turkey. He checked himself into the Foothills Detox treatment center in Fort Macleod, AB.He said detox was the worst pain he’s ever experienced.So bad that he cried. At one point he went to hospital for treatment. Three weeks later said he was “free.”“It’s like Dante’s inferno – Dr. Sue ChristensonDr. Sue Christenson, a physician at the Lavern Clinic on the Blood Tribe in southern Alberta (Provost’s home community) deals with hundreds of cases of fentanyl users.Christenson said she has witnessed withdrawal’s that’s the stuff of nightmares.“It’s like Dante’s inferno,” said Christenson. “Like needles being stuck into your body. Sweats. I’ve seen people horribly dry heaving, uncontrollable diarrhea, inability to sleep, severe depression. It’s horrible. Avoiding withdrawal is what drives addiction. People are terrified of it.”She doesn’t recommend the cold turkey method of quitting. Right now Christenson is treating about 300 patients with suboxone, a drug that’s a partial opioid agonist that helps to diminish the withdrawals.“For people that are taking these medications or drugs (fentanyl) on a regular basis- the brain uploads receptors and it needs a certain amount to just feel comfortable. Which is why when you don’t have them you feel horrible and you’re in withdrawal. The suboxone has a chemical in it that’s a partial opioid agonist so it stimulates those receptors but not the ones that cause you to decrease breathing, so it’s safe. It takes away withdrawals and cravings, but doesn’t activate the receptors that make you high,” explained Christenson.She said the failure rate for the cold turkey method is 98 percent. However, the suboxone success rate is only about 20 or 30 percent. But it’s a heck of a lot better than two percent said Christenson.The Blood tribe, population 12,800 declared a state of emergency in March 2015 after fentanyl began claiming lives at an alarming rate.The painkiller, sold on the black market in a pill, patch or powdered form can be up to 100 times stronger than heroin. Christenson said people in her First Nation are more subject to pain, whether it be from growing up in adverse conditions or residual and intergenerational affects from colonization like the Indian residential school system. Traumatic experiences can affect child brain development and make people susceptible to addiction, she said.Often times the numbing effects of fentanyl can be a quick fix from dealing with grief as well.“It’s like, ‘give me a break for a moment, I’m hurting so much.’ If the drug is readily available and brought to you- because it’s easier to get fentanyl delivered to your door step here than it is to go to a doctor and talk about your problems and get another pill,” she said.It’s a problem that’s rapidly growing and affecting people from all walks of life in western Canada.Overdoses claimed the lives of 374 people in British Columbia in 2016 and 374 in Alberta that same year. An average of 34.4 deaths per month in Alberta.Christenson said the drug is spreading eastward and warned officials there to expect its imminent arrival. There were four fentanyl related deaths in Saskatchewan in 2016, nine in Manitoba and numbers rose back up with almost 200 deaths in Ontario.“You’re literally dealing in death when you’re selling this stuff – RCMP Corporal Curtis Peters The overdoses are mostly caused by illicit fentanyl intake that’s manufactured mostly in China then shipped to Canada’s ports, according to the RCMP.Prescription grade fentanyl is highly regulated and used for people suffering from severe pain such as cancer or people undergoing surgery.RCMP Strategic Communications Unit, Corporal Curtis Peters, said most of the customs seizures have to do with illicit fentanyl. But organized crime groups are now learning how to make it and are starting to manufacture it in Canada.Although the RCMP said they can’t quite pinpoint as to why fentanyl use is more prominent in the western provinces.“We know that it’s manufactured here in the west by organized crime groups who have a foothold here in these two provinces,” said Peters. “The pills are largely pressed in Alberta and BC. I think the availability of it being here and the distribution network is contributing to the problem for sure.”Peters said during a recent raid one officer was exposed to the powered form of fentanyl and had to be given its antidote, naloxone.Because of the deaths, Alberta RCMP is now going after drug dealers.Bobby Weasel Head, 41, was charged with manslaughter last year for selling tainted fentanyl to Roxanne Blood, 41, and Timothy Eagle, 46, who died in their home on the Blood reserve in March 2016.Last fall police in Edmonton laid a manslaughter charge against Jordan Yarmey, 25, for the fentanyl overdose death of Szymon Kalich, 33.It’s becoming more commonplace to hold dealers to account, said Peters.“To me, the people that are selling this poison, that’s a problem. You’re literally dealing in death when you’re selling this stuff. And it’s driven strictly by greed. They sell it for profit. Playing with people’s lives and getting rich off of it- it’s terrible. It’s disgusting,” he said.RCMP enforcement efforts have been ramped up to include training police dogs in the detection of fentanyl, increasing awareness campaigns on social media and main stream media, officer training, educating frontline workers and distributing naloxone kits.A take home Naloxone kit from the City of Ottawa.Naloxone allows a five minute window of survival after an overdose. In the past year, the Province of Alberta allocated almost $17 million to combat the opioid crisis including almost $1 million for take home naloxone kits.The Blood Tribe has been using naloxone for over a year and has seen a significant reduction in overdose deaths. As of spring 2015 there were 40 fentanyl related overdoses and 20 deaths.There have been two deaths on reserve and three off reserve since naloxone was introduced.“We have a lot of people in the community trained in naloxone kits,” said Blood Tribe Deputy Chief of Police Kyle Melting Tallow.“We’re still seeing a lot of people that are overdosing but they’re using the kits. You’ll go into houses and you’ll see several kits stacked at the door. You’ll see used kits as well,” he said.Melting Tallow said there are at least two overdoses in the community a day, however users will administer the naloxone kits and then continue to get high.Christenson hopes that the kits will become common place.“Every citizen in the province should consider getting a kit. I think it’s going to become like CPR. We’ll have these kits on the walls to be grabbed in the event of an overdose,” said Christenson.It’s a crisis that will never go away, she added, once this is dealt with another drug will take its place.“I think it’s probably going to get worse and I just want to be prepared for the next wave.”The next wave is already hitting the streets in the form of carfentanil which is 100 times more potent than fentanyl and W18, a designer drug which is 10,000 times more powerful than morphine.Beds in the Kanai Wellness Center on the Blood reserve. Photo: Brandi Morin/APTNFirst Nations like the Blood Tribe work with Health Canada which has committed $65 million over five years to the opioid issue.Meanwhile, the Blood Tribe has its own treatment center that treats patients from all over Canada called the Kanai Wellness Center.Indigenous groups are also working with Alberta Health Services which is funneling out $8 million for new treatment beds.An opioid dependency clinic opened last May in Cardston located in Southern Alberta is treating 129 people with new patients being added daily.A 300 bed treatment clinic is set to open this spring in northern Alberta. With an additional 11 treatment centers scattered across the province.“We’re also working with groups in cities around the province around establishing supervised consumption services to provide a safer space for people to use drugs but also those wrap around services that come with,” said Alberta Associate Minister of Health, Brandy Payne. “A key piece is ensuring that we’re investing in treatment.”She recognizes that Indigenous groups have been highly affected and the province will continue to provide supports.“We do know that Indigenous people have been very hard hit by this whether they’re living on reserve or off and we want to make sure we’re providing supports needed,” said Payne.Provost said he has now been clean for 18 months. He said he did it for his girlfriend. He reflected back on his demeanour while he was doing fentanyl.“I was at a point in my drug use where I didn’t even care. I didn’t care if people were dying off of it…but now I tell people every time you use that stuff it’s like putting a gun to your head,” he said. “Usually something really bad has to happen for someone to come off it-for me I had a wicked wake up call.”Provost speaking to a group at the detox centre on the Blood reserve in Alberta. Photo: Brandi Morin/APTNHe now has a place of his own in Fort Macleod and goes to the detox center to speak to patients about how to get clean.He said it’s rewarding and a chance to give back, but it’s not easy being sober.“Times are tough when you’re sober. It’s a lot harder because you face everything head on.”There are several coping mechanisms Provost uses like surrounding himself with good people, going to sweats and doing yoga.Looking back he said when his girlfriend took fentanyl that fateful day she knew the potential dangers of her choice.“You can’t make anybody do drugs. If they’re going to do them, they’re going to do them. My girlfriend was very intelligent, she was very smart. She never let anybody make her do anything. She was very independent. She wanted to do it (fentanyl).”He believes she is now a guardian angel and that her spirit is close by. She often visits him in his dreams to tell him everything’s going to be [email protected]