When her former husband Damon Grant died of an overdose in January of 2021, Janelle Kincaid became an advocate for supporting addicts to recovery. One of the ways she's helping to do this is through Black Balloon Day for overdose awareness, and she said she hopes this first annual event helps encourage others in the area to do the same.
On Saskatchewan Drive this past Sunday, only three balloon memorials were given the names of those locals gone too soon: Shane Flahr, Joel Wolstenholme, and Damon Grant.
"Three is better than none. So I'm hoping that next year that there's a better turn out. Not that there should be a better turn out, but just so that we can get more awareness and just so that people aren't so shy or not able to say, 'hey, you know, not my son or daughter also died of an overdose', and acknowledge that we need we need to get people to be able to say, 'hey, you know what? I went through the same thing. I get it'.
She said the more people who come forward to say their son, daughter, father, mother, or other loved one died by overdose, the more the stigma can be lifted.
"First and foremost, your addict is a human being, right? They're someone's someone."
"There's so close to 100 posters that Denise Kennedy, Michelle Roemer, and Lorraine Wilkinson came and we all got together, made all these posters," she shared. "While we were putting out posters, we had quite a few people slow down and say, 'hey, you know what? Good job!' I think it was really rewarding."
Kincaid said the families of the ones who were honoured were very pleased.
"They were overjoyed with what we did."