149 men and counting: addictions centre marks milestone

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After trying to get sober twice, Shane Sturby-Highfield was starting to lose hope. A friend helped him get to a RAAM clinic and paved his way to the Bruce Oake Recovery Centre. On Wednesday, thanks to the support he received in the centre, he proudly celebrated seven months of sobriety.

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After trying to get sober twice, Shane Sturby-Highfield was starting to lose hope. A friend helped him get to a RAAM clinic and paved his way to the Bruce Oake Recovery Centre. On Wednesday, thanks to the support he received in the centre, he proudly celebrated seven months of sobriety.

“This is my third attempt at treatment and this is the one that’s going to stick with me because the program works,” the 35-year-old said.

In 2021, his drug and alcohol addiction forced him away from his family and living on the streets for a second time.

ETHAN CAIRNS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS The Bruce Oake Recovery Centre opened last May and was developed in honour of Bruce Oake, who died from an accidental drug overdose in 2011 at the age of 25.

He is one of 149 men who received support from the centre in its first year of operation. He said he’s thankful to the program and its staff for helping him dig out of a dark place.

“I was at the point where I was ready to end it. I entered a pretty dark place and phoned my family and a friend and told them I didn’t want to be alone at that point.”

Five days after making those calls, Sturby-Highfield started his road to recovery at the Bruce Oake Recovery Centre.

“It’s been phenomenal. I am extremely grateful that they believed in me and saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself,” he said. “The support from the staff members here, and all of the work they put into every individual, is remarkable. If there’s something eating away at me at 3 a.m., I can come down and have a talk with someone. They make me feel safe and comfortable in the space here.”

The non-profit treatment program offers long-term live-in and community-based services to men who seek recovery from substance use.

The centre opened last May and was developed in honour of Bruce Oake, who died from an accidental drug overdose in 2011 at the age of 25.

A gathering was held Wednesday at the centre to commemorate its anniversary and pay tribute to its late founder and matriarch, Anne Oake.

ETHAN CAIRNS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Shane Sturby-Highfield speaks at the Bruce Oake Recovery Centre for the one year anniversary of operations.

Scott, Darcy, Leslie and baby August Oake unveiled a plaque in honour of Anne.

“The Bruce Oake Recovery Centre exists because of Anne’s loving, caring spirit. It wasn’t easy to get here, but this place was going to be built no matter what. That was Anne’s attitude. She would not settle for people who struggle like Bruce did, to not have a place in Winnipeg to which they could come to get their lives back,” Scott Oake said.

In its first year, the centre received an average of 6,700 phone calls a month from people seeking help for substance abuse. It currently has more than 200 people on its waiting list. The need for support has pushed the centre to look at expansion.

“Now that we have accomplished our first year and achieved our objectives, we’re looking to have sustainability. One centre is not enough and serving all genders is important. We want to be able to support all genders, so having another facility that would be able to support women would definitely be a goal and something that we’d want to work towards,” said executive director Greg Kyllo. “We’re grateful to say our first year was a huge success. Everything that was able to be achieved this year was by the community, partners, supporters, volunteers and families that made it possible.”

Of the highlights Kyllo listed were the facility not having a COVID outbreak during the pandemic and the first in-person gratitude ceremony.

The centre had 10 members achieve a full year of sobriety and their names were placed on the back of hockey jerseys that will hang in the centre’s gymnasium.

Kyllo said it’s important to celebrate and recognize their member’s accomplishments.

ETHAN CAIRNS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Darcy Oake, wife Leslie and daughter August reveal a plaque dedicated to his mother, Anne Oake, at the Bruce Oake Recovery Centre as it marked one year of operations Wednesday.

“It’s a real symbol of accomplishment and in the early stages of making a change in your life to achieve a recovery goal,” he said. “It’s not just a celebration for that individual, it’s a celebration for their family and all of their loved ones. When that jersey is raised, we also congratulate the family because they’ve been as much of a part of that journey.”

Sturby-Highfield plans to one day have a jersey with his name hanging in the gym as he continues his recovery.

bryce.hunt@freepress.mb.ca

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Updated on Wednesday, July 6, 2022 7:45 PM CDT: Imagine fixed

Updated on Thursday, July 7, 2022 6:07 AM CDT: Updates photo caption

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