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Devastated Kamloops father of fentanyl overdose victim demanding change

Sara Jane Oleksy pictured with her baby in 2020. Oleksy died of a fentanyl overdose on May 26, 2022.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Trevor Oleksy

A father in Kamloops is devastated after his 25-year-old daughter became yet another victim of a fentanyl overdose two weeks ago.

Trevor Oleksy said the incident has shattered the family.

Sara Jane Oleksy died in Kelowna May 26 leaving behind her five-year-daughter and many close family members. Trevor said the provincial and federal governments are not doing enough to stop the drug epidemic. More available resources like rehab and detox facilities are needed immediately.

“Whatever we are doing it is not enough, this needs to stop,” he said. “A whole generation of young people are being wiped out. This fentanyl is affecting street people, families, regular blue collar workers and kids.”

READ MORE: Interior Health warns of toxic drug supply in Kamloops, Okanagan

The opioid crisis is a result of multiple complex factors, and has been claiming lives at an increasing rate every year since the province declared a state of emergency in 2016.

Sara battled a fentanyl addiction for the past five years.

“She was a super smart kid and graduated early from high school,” Trevor said. “She wanted to go into nursing but chose to take a gap year. She went out on her own for the first time to Alberta, and came back pregnant to her home in Kelowna when she was almost 20.”

Trevor said she suffered postpartum depression after she had her baby and decided she didn’t want to be a mom.

“That’s when she got into drugs, it was all a big shock,” he said. “I went to Kelowna and found her living in a homeless camp and she said she wasn’t ready to be a mom.”

READ MORE: No 'shame and guilt' in overdose deaths, Kamloops advocates say

The two talked on the phone regularly for the following eight months.

“She phoned me in summer of 2017 and said her boyfriend had beat her up and she wanted to come home,” Trevor said. “We tried to get her into a detox bed anywhere in the province but nothing was immediately available. We didn’t know what to do so we took her camping for two weeks and dried her out.”

Trevor was able to get his daughter into a treatment centre for 120 days. Around Christmas time when her treatment stay was almost complete, she brought two female friends home with her back from the facility.

“All three of those girls are gone, they all passed from fentanyl overdoses, Sara was the last of the three,” he said.

Following treatment, Trevor said Sara was doing well, concentrating on getting her daughter back and working on becoming a nurse. She put on weight and got colour back.

“The day before she died we talked on the phone and she said she was well,” he said. “We thought we had beat this. The next day RCMP contacted me saying Sara had gone out for drinks with friends and got into some cocaine cross-contaminated with fentanyl.”

READ MORE: ‘TERRIFIED’: The interrupted life and final days of Katherine McParland

Trevor wants to get the word out about the toxic drugs. He wants more people testing their drugs and thinking twice before using.

“This is the hardest thing my family has had to do,” he said. “We never think about burying our kids, the aftermath, picking out caskets. Sara wanted to build a life for her daughter. All her daughter has left of her mom is photographs.”

The little girl is in Kelowna with close family members.

Trevor plans to go to Sara's high school that she attended and start talking to kids about the dangers of fentanyl and share his daughter's story.

“If one person sees Sarah’s face, or her daughter’s face and has a second thought before making that horrible choice, her life won’t be in vain, and a life and family will be spared,” he said.

In October 2021, there were 201 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths, the largest number of suspected deaths ever recorded in a month, according to a B.C. Coroners Service Report.

The 1,782 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths between January and October 2021 are the highest ever recorded in a calendar year.

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