Father who lost son to fentanyl poisoning hopes anti-drug campaign goes national

‘No thanks I’m good’ campaign is hoping to save lives in Manitoba.

Joseph Fourre says his son was known for saying “No thanks I’m good” when he was offered drugs.

“Harlan was an extraordinary young man who was looking forward to paying off his car and his future,” Fourre says on the latest episode of Nation to Nation.

Harlan, 31, was a roofer. One night in April 2023, he and his crew were out for drinks after finishing a job in the Pas, Man., a small community near the Saskatchewan border. His father says he took a drug he thought was ecstasy. It turned out to be pure fentanyl.

Harlan and three other men collapsed in the bar. RCMP said two more people overdosed at the same establishment, later that night.

Harlan suffered a catastrophic brain injury. Days later, Fourre made the agonizing decision to taken Harlan off life support.

“My son was a great man. He made a bad choice one night and it cost him his life,” says Fourre on the latest episode of Face to Face.

Joseph Fourre, who has struggled with his own addictions, decided to start the No thanks, I’m Good campaign to honour his son, so “his death would account for something.”

“I was angry at the way that fentanyl was just running wild in the streets, killing our youth and nobody was talking about it. So, we started talking about it,” says Fourre. “I remember our first trip we took up north, we were in Cross Lake and I started questioning myself, like ‘why are we doing this, I’m ripping off the band aid every time I go up and talk about Harlan, talk about what happened,’” he says.

“And there was this young 14-year-old boy who came and give me the biggest hug and he looked at me and said ‘thank you for trying to save our lives and giving us this information because we didn’t know.’”

A poster showing the No thanks I’m good campaign.

That encounter is when he realized the message outweighed the pain and decided to keep going in the hopes of saving even just one life.

While Harlan wasn’t known for using drugs, but his mother and father were addicts.

Two years before Harlan died, his mother died of an overdose after smoking crack cocaine laced with fentanyl.

“What we’re seeing now is the high level of tainted drugs out there. Whether its marijuana, cocaine, the meth, some of the recreational drugs, molly, ecstasy, that people have generally thought of as recreational drugs are now being tainted and people are dying from that,” says Fourre.

“There’s a real need now to have this national campaign and let’s use No thanks, I’m Good as that slogan to get out there, that’s what we’re hoping for.”

Fourre developed branding, posters, buttons, magnets and more for the No Thanks, I’m Good campaign.

He has also created the Singing Red Bear Foundation, in honour of his son’s Indigenous name.

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Father of man who died in The Pas wants changes to how people talk about drugs 

Fourre recently did a tour of First Nations in northern Manitoba to spread the message.

It’s a tough discussion to have but Fourre says parents shouldn’t be afraid to have the conversations.

Fourre would like to see Naloxone and test strips more readily available for people. He says having Naloxone in your backpack “doesn’t mean you’re doing drugs, it means you’re prepared to save a life,” at school, out with friends or even at home where kids might be growing up around addiction.

The province of Manitoba says it is committed to opening a supervised consumption site in downtown Winnipeg, the first in the province.

It’s an idea that Fourre, who struggled with addiction for roughly 40 years, isn’t sold on.

“I struggle with safe injection sites because my own personal experience. It was how I got addicted to heroin was through a safe injection site in Edmonton. What happens when you build brick and mortar, it creates a hub for that particular community in that neighborhood and then your drug dealers will move into that neighborhood because they know where the customers are going to use that,” says Fourre.

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