KAMLOOPS - A local mother hopes to give back to the community in memory of her son who died last month.
Tyler Robinson, 23, died from a fentanyl overdose on Jan. 27. His mother Sherry, hopes to prevent others from using the drug, but also help those struggling with addiction and homelessness.
"I had a growing anxiety (about fentanyl) in the months at the end of 2015, really worried that this could impact Tyler’s wellbeing,” Sherry says. "He knew and verbalized to his friends that it was a life or death situation to remain on the streets or continue using. You just never know where it might show up.”
Tyler is one of four males to die from a fentanyl overdose within the last month. Sherry says the coroner who examined her son told her Tyler had several drugs in his system at the time of his death, but it was the lethal dose of fentanyl which caused him to stop breathing.
Sherry says Tyler faced addiction issues for most of his adult life and started using heroin in his teens. She says while he struggled with his own issues, they never impeded him from helping others or volunteering at local agencies to help provide food or shelter.
"He was a very outgoing compassionate kind of guy. He really cared a lot for his friends and many of them felt like family they had been bonded for so long,” Sherry says.
As a self-taught musician, Sherry says Tyler found joy and peace in his music.
She suspects Tyler began using as a way to self-medicate and deal with mental health issues. He was on wait-lists to work on his issues with a professional.
“He did get himself into a recovery centre but was unable to stay due to his mental health. He got restless with his desire to get back to town. He did really want to go but was really stuck in that paradox of wanting to get back (to Kamloops) and then being under the grips of this strong addiction pull,” Sherry says. “There’s limited resources. He was met with so many challenges."
Sherry says she established some strict boundaries in her home and Tyler chose to support himself. He often ended up on the streets.
In her son’s obituary, Sherry asked people to donate to youth homelessness initiatives driven by Interior Community Services and Ask Wellness. The United Church's PIT Stop hot meal service was also recommended for donations.
"I encourage people to contribute a few dollars as best they can. I know that (PIT Stop) does provide really good meals, prepared by many community members. Homelessness is a big issue and we just need to be aware of the challenges. It’s not just a matter of someone flicking a switch and choosing a different behaviour to stop using. It requires a community to support a person,” she says.
To keep her son’s memory alive, Sherry plans to walk for the New Life Mission's Coldest Night of the Year event to raise funds in Tyler's name. The walk takes place on Feb. 20. To visit Team Tyler’s page, click here.
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