The pain of losing a child to a spiraling drug habit, addiction, and then death was at the centre of an inquest’s harsh spotlight Monday.
Brandon Jansen died at a Powell River substance abuse treatment centre on March 7 of last year.
His tragic death has raised the question the inquest hopes to answer; just how did he die of an overdose where he was supposed to be receiving treatment.
Last November, a report from the Sunshine Coast Health Centre suggested a family member may have brought in drugs that claimed Brandon Jansen’s life.
His Mother Michelle says that’s not true. She testified she brought some luggage in for Brandon to be checked, but doesn’t know if that happened.
Sunshine Coast Health Centre CEO Melanie Jordan says the luggage claim was in a police report attached to Brandon’s death.
“And we’ll find out about the luggage, more detail. And I think I will be producing some evidence about that when I testify on Friday.”
The inquiry has already heard something else that looks in the bigger picture as it pertains to fentanyl and drug treatment.
Michelle Jansen says she spent more than $200,000 in the two years her son battled addiction, and that he was in 11 treatment centres, but there was no support, no government agency checking in, not enough funding or advice.
She gave an unflinching insight into her son’s life, the last two of it spent addicted to fentanyl; a life she described as a “hamster wheel”- drug use, assault convictions, prison and then treatment.
Jansen says she wanted direction from a government agency, something she says people suffering from other diseases get.
She also wants the inquest to find recommendations that will prevent other parents going through what she did.
“This is a very important exercise, but if those recommendations aren’t implemented and they just sit on the back-burner and people continue to die, then why did we do this?”
She also told the inquest government that the government facility she and Brandon dealt with was riddled with drugs, though better than some of the private options.
Five months after Jansen’s death, his brother’s girlfriend Gwyn Staddon also died of an overdose. She was found in a Starbucks washroom in Port Moody.
Brandon’s father speaks out
And in a rare public appearance, Brandon’s father Michael described how his son got involved in drugs early in life and the bad crowd that he ran with, conceding when he Brandon’s mother split in 1996, the two didn’t always act in the kids’ best interest, in what appears to be a clearly acrimonious separation.
“Brandon was a good kid who lost direction,” he said.
In an emotional testimony, Michael said he and his wife did everything they thought was best to get Brandon clean.
But it was also brutally raw, at one point saying his son lived a partying lifestyle with drug dealers, and that “it’s crazy to think when your son is locked up you can finally get some sleep.”
He also spoke of paying off drug dealers, adding it was tough watching what his son’s life choices were doing to him.