Everyone is Impacted (Critical Condition: The Opioid Crisis in Grande Prairie)



"Critical Condition: The Opioid Crisis in Grande Prairie" Youtube Playlist (1st phase of campaign):
Campaign website (2nd phase of campaign):


For the first iteration of this campaign in 2019, the City of Grande Prairie, SK released a video featuring a variety of people with lived and living experience (PWLLEs) and service providers, discussing the increased substance use in their town. Interviewees mention seeing a shift in opioid addiction from street populations to the town population. The featured service providers recommend using a non-judgmental approach so that PWLLEs can build relationships and thereby be more likely to receive care.

A second wave of this campaign was also orchestrated in 2021, expanding the conversation about the opioid crisis in Grande Prairie to 14 YouTube videos, with a larger focus on local indigenous PWLLEs and youth. In addition to being released on the City of Grand Prairie's YouTube channel, these videos are included on the campaign website with a supplementary facilitator's guide to accompany screenings of the video series.







"Critical Condition: The Opioid Crisis in Grande Prairie" 0:26:46



1st Phase Campaign Video:

Time Code





I was just so unprepared. I just had- I just thought- I really believed that if I kind of did what I needed to do as a mom and look after- looked after them well and gave them, you know, opportunities, and- and loved them well that it just wouldn’t touch us. I don’t know why I thought it wouldn’t touch us.



I know that she didn’t use opioids like fentanyl and that sort of thing, like, a lot. Like, I actually have- I don’t know if she ever did before the time that she passed away.



Weed was the thing that I was trying to address. It u- it used to be a big deal in my world. I used to think, “Oh my god,” you know, “I can’t believe this is happening,” and if that was my only problem now, boy, it would just be so simple. But I didn’t really know that it was, um, out of control until probably he was 16, I think, when it was really out of control.


Tyla Savard

Moms Stop the Harm

But because of the strength of fentanyl, you’re addicted to it just being exposed to it, like 1, 2, by 3 times you’re definitely attached to it.



Fentanyl is in everything, and it’s scary. It’s in the pot, it’s in the crack, it’s in the heroin, it’s in the crystal meth, it’s in everything, because it makes it more addictive. Fentanyl makes it more addictive.



You don’t deserve to live. You’re an addict. Just go die on the street. You don’t do that. Why would I do that to somebody else’s child?



And, you know, after I’d do a pill, it was within 4 hours I’d start to get dope sick, right? And within 8 I’d be bedridden and wouldn’t be able to do anything. And it’s weird ‘cause you can be so dope sick, but as soon as you’re there waiting and you see that car pull up, you’re instantly- it’s like you’re not, because you know that you’re going to be h- you’re gonna get that fix any second now.



And then once she got on the street, she had no choice. She had to live. She had to survive. So you just do what everyone’s doing, you know? You- what- I don’t know what she did. She won’t talk to me about it. She’s- she has told me that she- she can’t tell me.



He beat me up. He did lots of hurtful things, um, and I was angry with him and I guess I kind of- the love that I had for him was still there, but I couldn’t love him as he was.


Nikki Lucas

Things weren’t bad when he died. He was- he got a new job, um, he cleaned himself up, and, um, you know, that last night, was it, “Oh I’ll just do it one last time”? I’ll never know. I’ll never know what that was.



My son had actually died in a backyard of somebody’s house in a shed, and, um, and I think he was gone for most of the day before anybody noticed that he was gone.



Um, my mom passed away, um, suddenly, uh, from an accidental fentanyl overdose, and 129 days later, my little brother Matthew passed away from a meth fentanyl overdose.


Nikki Lucas

146 people, um, are affected by one, um, tragic death. Uh, and we’re also looking, you know, affecting three to four generations with what’s happening right now. The grandparents who are raising children because father, mother have died of this overdose. Um, we have- we have fentanyl babies coming into the world now. We don’t know what that’s going to look like in the future, what the, um, what the care will be, what the cost will be.



You are somebody’s someone, you know what I mean? Like, you- you are a person.

2nd Phase of Campaign


00:00:06 She wasn’t dead, but she looked like death. And at that moment is when I realized how horrendous and how in control meth was over her life.

00:00:20 I have five children, and two of them have been affected—well, all five have been affected by addiction, no- no doubt—but two of them have directly been affected by the drugs that cause addiction. They both were kind of in the same mind frame. They had things in life that they didn’t want to deal with, and at that time the marijuana was helping for my- my older daughter. Very quickly, uh, from marijuana into cocaine.

00:00:50 I guess like any other parent, I just never thought this would happen to me. I feel- I guess, one thing I do feel guilty about is, because we fought so hard on the marijuana thing in the beginning, that was the issue. It was illegal, and my girls were using it in school… in high school, and, uh, that was definitely where it all started for us. 

00:01:12 And a part of me feels very guilty because I pushed so hard on that that I feel like especially with my one girl and the boundaries that we put in place, did I push her to the street? And then once she got on the street, she had no choice. She had to live. She had to survive. So you just do what everyone’s doing, you know? You- what- I don’t know what she did. She won’t talk to me about it. She’s- maybe someday her and I can have that conversation. Maybe never. Maybe this is a part of this whole journey that I’d rather just keep buried in the sand, because if I bring that part up, I don’t know.

00:01:49 The hardest thing that I’ve ever had to, um, internally deal with as a mom, with both of my girls, and to even say it out loud is the most bizarre thing in the world to me: there was times with both of my girls when things were so bad that I begged God to take them. [sniffs] Like what kind of parent does that? What kind of parent begs God to take them? I’ll tell you, it’s a parent who watches their kids in hell every day. [cries]

00:02:27 I don’t- I- I remember the day that I thought it for my one daughter, because she was struggling and she tried to commit suicide twice, and the second time, I was at the hospital… and I had to watch her. And they… used the counter- counteractive drug to try to help get the drugs out of her system, and she was in so much pain. And there was nothing they could do for her but just give her the- this medication to try and help get this out. And it took three days.

00:03:01 I don’t talk about these things. I haven’t talked about these things. I haven’t talked about my feelings, really, with anyone. But I don’t want another parent to feel this way, and I know a lot do. How do- how does a person survive that? You know, how does a parent survive this?

00:03:23 I was barely floating. I was doing- I think the fight in me- the fight in me to save my children kept me just- just above the power of the meth and the cocaine and everything else. My one daughter that was living on the streets, I told her I was doing this, and I told her that I was doing it, um, this way, right? Where I wouldn’t be using names, and I asked her, If you had any advice or anything to say to, I don’t know, your younger self, 12, 13, 14, I don’t know when she started using, to be honest. I know she started using the hard drugs around age 15, 16. What would you say? Do you have any advice? And she thought about it, and she said to me, “I don’t have any advice, Mum, because somebody who wants- is gonna be a drug user is going to be a user, and there’s nothing I can say to stop that. But what I would say is whatever you do, however far you go, deep you go, you know, wherever you end up in the drug world, don’t forget the values that your parents taught you. Because once you let those go, your life doesn’t mean anything.”

00:04:42 We were always in the back of her mind… and her grandparents, and she said that’s her advice to anybody. Do not let go of your values that your family taught you because it will take you out in the end. And she said that’s how she got out.

00:04:57 A long time ago, I gave up trying to tell them what to do because, I’ll tell you right now, it’s just gonna make it worse. It- it real- and I get it, it’s a parent’s role, especially when your kids are not adults and they’re doing things they’re not supposed to do, you know, it’s your job, but it comes to a time where you have to weigh out the- do you- do you want to be, you know, the parent and have everything done the right way, or how can I best support my child as they swim through this murky water and have them still trust me?

00:05:32 My daughter sent me something on Facebook just recently, and it was about meth and it was basically meth talking. And one of the things it did say as a meth user in this poem was, “Whenever I see my mom, she cries. And my little brother, I’m not his hero anymore.” Anyways, she sent me this- she actually sent it through Facebook, for the world to see, and this also shows me that she’s in recovery… is responsibility that she’s owning, but she sent it to me and said, “Now when I see my mom, she smiles, and in my little brother’s eyes, [cries] I- I now wear a cape again.”

00:06:16 My one daughter, um, she’s 90- 90-plus days clean. My other daughter is… um, I believe, clean as of May. Meth or any- fentanyl, they’re all very selfish drugs, and they will- they take over their bodies, their minds, their souls… and they just got to find that little crack and start clawing their way out. And when they do, you’ve got to be there. They got to know you love them. They gotta know that you trust them.

00:06:51 Yeah, it’s… the story of the two of them and it happening at the same time, really, you know, within the same time frame… Man, I am very thankful to be where I am today talking about this. Um… and I still have my daughters.

Joanne Merrylees:

00:16 So, I am in recovery myself. Um, my recovery started June 7, 2010, um and I have been clean since then.

00:25 I know nobody in my family, nobody on this entire planet, could tell me to stop using drugs. I had to do that on my own. When I was ready, and that’s what happened with me- I was just done. With the lifestyle, with everything- I was so tired of being an addict.

00:43 It helps me having that lived experience, helps me when it comes to understanding, where our clients’ headspace is, why they use, and why they continue to use, and why it’s so hard to use.

00:56 Um, for me, my experience was a lot of trauma, um and a lot of abuse, um that I went through that I didn’t know... or I thought that I was coping with in regular ways. I didn’t know how to cope. I never had those skills on how to cope with that, and I never told anybody.

01:15 So, when I was sexually abused as a young girl, multiple times, I didn’t know how to voice that- I wasn’t taught that, so if I’m not taught that, how do I- I continue on the rest of my life, with that?


Time Code




Lisa walks on the sidewalk to the front entrance of a school.

My name is Lisa, and I am a teacher and a mother. I would have said mother and teacher-


Lisa walks in the school hallway talking to a little girl.

-but, uh, my sons are grown up now.


Interview footage

Initially, I just thought I could control it. I thought if I just found the right- the magic formula or found the right person to help him that I could make it better.


Lisa sits on a chair at the front of the classroom. Her students sit on the floor. Close up shots of her working with her students.

You know, when they’re little, when your kids are little and they have little hurts and you can fix them, and I just remember thinking,


Interview footage

“Man, I wish it was those simple days” where you could just put him up on the counter and put a bandaid on his knee and it would be okay, but… [shakes head] He’s always very sensitive and, um, very creative, and he-


Photographs of her son

-loved music. I remember I made a little, uh, Kleenex box guitar. He would sit and just-


Interview footage

-play and sing. [laughs] And- and he didn’t often know the words, but he was just- it was one of his passions, and it was always. I spent so much time trying to say it the right way or [finger quotes] “fix” him that, you know, there’s times that I really regret that part. I regret all the times that I said the same thing over and over again to him. And when are you gonna get help? And when are you gonna, you know? In one of his pieces of writing that we found, there was something about every time I’m with my family, that’s all they ask or want to know about me. And I remember getting to the point where I realized that was happening and that I had forgotten who he was or to see the rest of him. …


Interview footage

My son had actually, um, died in a backyard of somebody’s house in a shed, and, um, and I think he was gone for most of the day before anybody noticed that he was gone. It took me a long time to kind of work through that and get some peace about it because [shakes head, long pause]... because you imagine the little boy on the counter and fixing it and making it better. [shakes head, wipes eyes] And I wasn’t there.


School hallway

The more I shared our story, the more people I learned-


Lisa teaches in front of her young students, who sit on the carpet.

-had that story also.


Photograph of son on classroom bulletin board

My son’s legacy is to share that and to say we’re all- we’re all- this is our story.



City of Grande Prairie, “Everyone is Impacted (Critical Condition: The Opioid Crisis in Grande Prairie),” Anti-Stigma Archive, accessed May 19, 2024, https://antistigma.info/items/show/85.