A family said goodbye to a 31-year-old man on Friday after he was taken off life support following an overdose from poisoned drugs in a northern Manitoba community nearly one week ago.
Harlan Fourre was found unresponsive at an establishment in The Pas on April 22 after RCMP say he ingested what is believed to have been an opioid-laced drug.
He was put on a ventilator shortly afterwards, and his father Joseph said the family got to spend a few hours with Harlan on Friday before he died.
“We didn’t know how it was going to go … so we kind of made the decision that, well, it’s up to Harlan now,” Joseph told CBC News.
“He decided to spare us and he [died] nine minutes after we disconnected his life support. He passed peacefully and it’s a great loss to our family.”
The family lit a sacred fire in Harlan’s honour on Friday that will burn for four days and nights.
Some of his organs are being donated, which speaks to the caring person that he was, said Joseph.
“It just made sense to honour his life with that last act of giving that gift to someone else.”
There were 418 suspected drug-related deaths in Manitoba in 2022, according to preliminary data released by the province on Thursday.
“It’s a horrible number. That number shouldn’t be that high,” said Joseph, who received many messages over the last week from other parents who’ve lost children because of tainted drugs.
People struggling with addiction are not the only ones losing their lives in the opioid epidemic, he said.
“We’re not talking about the active addict — we’re talking about a kid who had his whole life ahead of him,” he said, adding that parents should talk with their children about dangerous drugs, especially with graduation season coming up soon.
“Have those hard conversations about what’s out there. Times have changed and there’s a murderer out there, and that murderer is called fentanyl,” he said.
“Educate them so you don’t have to feel what I’m feeling right now, and [do] what I have to do over the next course of the week … [to] bury an incredible man, my son Harlan.”