July 3, 2020

Winnipeg
20° C, Overcast

Full Forecast

WEATHER ALERT

Help us deliver reliable news during this pandemic.

We are working tirelessly to bring you trusted information about COVID-19. Support our efforts by subscribing today.

No Thanks Subscribe

Already a subscriber?

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Oakes family saved me, woman says

Couple paid for addiction treatment without having met her

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/1/2018 (896 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Stephanie Johnson wants people to know she’s alive today because of private drug rehab paid for by Scott and Anne Oake.

The publicist, photographer and artist stepped out from behind the camera this week after the sale of the old Vimy Arena site cleared another hurdle at Winnipeg city hall.

<p>Stephanie Johnson says she wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for the assistance of Scott and Anne Oake, who helped finance her rehab program.</p>

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Stephanie Johnson says she wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for the assistance of Scott and Anne Oake, who helped finance her rehab program.

The site is the proposed location of an addictions-recovery centre the Oake family wants to build, but the process has been bogged down for months, something that frustrates Johnson.

"In my opinion, the most critical piece in this story is that before the Bruce Oake Recovery Centre has even opened, the Oakes have already begun to save lives. I attribute being here today to both them and Tamarack Recovery Centre," Johnson told the Free Press.

Johnson, 29, talked about her cocaine and alcohol addiction, her downward spiral and how a desperate cold call in the form of a lengthy email to the office of the province’s health minister eventually landed her a second chance.

She said she hit bottom in the summer of 2016 with a cocaine addiction, and through a winding set of circumstances found herself the recipient of a 78-day stay at the Tamarack Recovery Centre, a non-profit rehab facility in Winnipeg priced at $125 a day. That was followed by a couple of months of having all her living expenses paid for until she got back on her feet.

The Oakes — who Johnson had never met — paid the bill.

Johnson decided to call the family this week and ask permission to take her story public. She issued a press release the same day Mayor Brian Bowman and the executive policy committee reached their decision about selling the shuttered arena.

Anne Oake said Thursday the couple has quietly helped others, not just Johnson, but it was Johnson’s decision to go public.

"She’s done all the work. We just gave her a hand up. She’s a remarkable girl and she hasn’t had an easy life," Anne said.

The Oakes — Scott is a longtime CBC Sports broadcaster — lost their son Bruce to a drug overdose in 2011 at the age of 25, and have a reputation of helping out addicts such as Johnson access pricey treatment.

It is something they don’t talk much about. The public hears more about their proposal to build a $14-million, 50-bed long-term addictions facility in memory of their son.

Once operational, addicts would be treated at the centre at no cost, with all expenses covered by the foundation set up in Bruce Oake’s name.

<p>Scott Oake speaks to city councillors about the proposed recovery centre.</p>

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Scott Oake speaks to city councillors about the proposed recovery centre.

The proposal is especially sensitive because of the location: an old arena on the banks of Sturgeon Creek that was closed in 2015 after the city declared it surplus in 2013. The intention was proceeds from its sale would be reinvested in recreational facilities.

The arena was never sold. Instead, Manitoba Housing got city administrators to approve a sale to the agency for $1 — despite a recent appraisal that determined the 2.5-acre site is worth $1.43 million.

The provincial subsidized-housing branch plans to lease the site to the Oake family foundation for the treatment facility.

Crestview neighbourhood residents waited hours at city hall this week to speak about the issue in the latest showdown over opposition of the sale, but Bowman and the EPC unanimously endorsed it.

City council will vote on the proposed sale next week.

The political flap over the arena is a good chance to train the spotlight on the hidden issue of addiction and recovery, Johnson said.

"I see there’s a lot of talk in our community where the treatment centre is a good idea or in the area it’s in," she said. "And we know what addiction looks like, but we don’t talk enough about what recovery looks like. I think it’s important to start talking about recovery and show what recovery looks like.

"First and foremost, I’m a recovering addict. I wouldn’t have been able to access treatment if it hadn’t been for Scott and Anne Oake."

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

 

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.

To those who have made donations, thank you.

To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.

The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.

After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.

If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.

We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.

History

Updated on Thursday, January 18, 2018 at 8:35 PM CST: Updates photo

The Free Press would like to thank our readers for their patience while comments were not available on our site. We're continuing to work with our commenting software provider on issues with the platform. In the meantime, if you're not able to see comments after logging in to our site, please try refreshing the page.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us