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Family fighting to help people with addictions after losing son
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Family fighting to help people with addictions after losing son

The photo of Steven Rodgers shows him with a guitar in hand, strumming a tune we can’t hear.

The guitar makes sense. Rodgers’ family describes him as talented, artistic, musical, creative, funny, a Bomber fan… and loved.

Sadly, his family is mourning him now — and encouraging donations go to the Bruce Oake Foundation to help people battling addictions — after he died on Jan. 16.

Rodgers is another victim of drug addiction. He was 39.

Before the addictions, Rodgers was a kid. He went to Windsor Park School and, outside of school hours, honed his love of baseball and bowling, but especially bowling. He spent hours with his dad throwing balls down alleys and developing the skill which would see him regularly place in the top three at tournaments he competed in. Even his grandmother, one of his biggest fans, would come pick him up so he could join her at her own bowling league and spar with the adults there.

And Rodgers had some adventures during his lifetime. Once he travelled all the way to Mexico for a friend’s wedding, but something got screwed up and he didn’t have a room at the hotel. Luckily, the weather was more forgiving than here and he was able to sleep on the beach until the problem was fixed.

Rodgers’ son, Blake, was born in 2004, and he lived with the child’s mother for awhile until they split up. As his family says, “eventually bad decisions took their toll on the relationship.”

The troubles Rodgers went through also stopped him from having long-term jobs, but he did have several good ones, including at Canad Inns Windsor Park, the Winakwa Community Centre, and Goodwill Industries.

Even when he was on the right track, circumstances caused him to derail. He graduated with honours from Red River’s administrative assistant program — even having perfect attendance — and did well at a practicum with the city.

Unfortunately, the city wasn’t hiring at the time. “Sadly, his attempts to move forward were slipping away as the demons dragged him in once more.

“At some point the addictions always came calling and drugs were unfortunately far too easy to obtain. Every time, he slipped further down the rabbit hole and, in March 2021, (we) realized how powerless we were to stop this destructive path he was on — we knew by then the inevitable was coming, but it still didn’t prepare us for the day that the police came to the door.”

But the family knows from what their son and they went through, there are cracks in the system which was supposed to be there to help.

Even Rodgers’ friends tried to get him help. They recently took him to the Rapid Access to Addictions Medicine Clinic at the Health Sciences Centre, but he was turned away.

The reason? Rodgers didn’t have photo ID or a medical card at the time.

His dad also took Rodgers to the same clinic, and he was scheduled to go to Thompson for treatment, but he died before getting that help.

“The tiny window of time an addict is open for treatment never seems to line up to when a spot/bed is open.”

That’s why Rodgers’ family says everyone needs to fight for more treatment than what’s out there, and to lower barriers to get that help.

They said already most of the people who have reached out to them with support say they know someone else who is also struggling with addiction —and some of the people they know have already died, even ones younger than Rodgers.

“This is an epidemic and so much more needs to be done.”

Rodgers is survived by his son, parents, brother and sister, and numerous other relatives and friends. Read more about Steven. 

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason, Reporter

Kevin Rollason

How They Lived

Born on a dairy farm, Hubert Balcaen was only 13 when he left to go to boarding school and then university.

Balcaen, who died on Jan. 12, was hired by the University of Manitoba as coordinator of language laboratories. But it wasn’t long before he was offered a position as a French professor — and he took it.

But Balcaen didn’t just want to teach the language and the culture, he wanted to inspire his students. He must have because, during his 30-year teaching career, he was honoured with a Merit Award of Excellence in Teaching.

And for many of those years he volunteered at Development and Peace, serving as the first president of the local chapter in the Saint Boniface Diocese. Read more about Hubert.

 


 

Lucille Tolaini was a hairdresser who became a successful real estate agent.

Tolaini, who was 82 when she died on Jan. 27, was a realtor, first in Brandon, where she owned Dream Home Realty, then in Winnipeg for Qualico.

While living in Brandon she also loved to volunteer — you would have seen her at the Labatt Brier and the Jeux Canada Games.

She was also known for inviting people into her place for a glass of wine. Perhaps that’s why she later helped her daughter at her wine store, Jones and Company Wine Merchants. Read more about Lucille. 

 


 

You might have bought furniture from Bob Faveri — and then had to stain it.

That’s because after Faveri, who was 93 when he died on Jan. 22, had a successful career as an entrepreneur across the country before he founded his namesake business, Faveri’s Unpainted Furniture, in Winnipeg.

But Faveri also volunteered, giving of his time with The Lion’s Club, Sales and Marketing Club, Camp Manitou, and the Winnipeg Winter Club to name a few. Read more about Bob. 

 


 

Janet Baldwin was a champion of human rights.

Baldwin, who was 78 when she died on Jan. 23, was born in England, got her law degree there, and, after continuing her studies at other universities, came to the University of Manitoba to be a professor starting in 1967.

Baldwin stayed until retiring in 1998, in between serving four times as associate dean.

She was appointed to the Manitoba Human Rights Commission, first as a commissioner and then, in 2001, as chairwoman. She was there until retiring again in 2007. She then served on Winnipeg Harvest’s board. Read more about Janet. 

 


 

Stanley Nickarz touched the lives of many students during his almost four decade career as a teacher.

Nickarz, who died on Jan. 24, at 79, taught at Pine Falls School, then Gordon Bell, before finishing at Sargent Park School.

How did Nickarz get to be a teacher? He went the University of Winnipeg to get his Bachelor’s Degree in Education. How did he pay for his education? He could play the trumpet and, in fact, he was so good at it he was able to play for bands and get paid while still going to school. Read more about Stanley. 

 


 

A Life’s Story

John Hak was so enthusiastic about the local music scene that the musicians in bands became his fans.

Hak, who was 66 when he died Nov. 30 after a brain aneurysm, was known for losing himself in dancing to live music at venues across the city.

Hak, in one of his bright shirts, at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. (JSENFTPHOTOGRAPHY)

“There was a time about 10 years ago, if John didn’t show up to your show you knew you weren’t in a cool band,” recalled Jesse Millar, who drums with Roma Mayes and the Honeysliders, in a recent Passages feature.

“If John showed up that night it’s “Yes, I’m in a cool band!”

Read more about Hak’s life.

 


 

Until next time, I hope you continue to write your own life’s story.

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