Thursday, 11 February 2016

If love was enough

If love was enough
By Rose Barbour

My mother wasn’t June Cleaver
She wasn’t meant to be
My childhood wasn’t perfect
But I knew she loved me.

Her laughter would light up a room
She was understanding and kind
She had a beautiful heart of gold
With a serious illness intertwined.

There were times she fought so hard
To keep her sickness at bay
At other times she buckled
And struggled to find her way.

If love was enough to save her
She’d be here with us today
Instead we’ve said good-bye
Because addiction doesn’t work that way.

She loved us and we loved her
But her battle has been lost
Like so many others before her
She paid the highest cost.

A beautiful soul with a loving heart
Has now been laid to rest
With aching hearts we will miss her
Cause our mom was the best.

Written with love for a dear family friend who lost her mother way too soon.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Can’t keep a passionate woman down

Dear friends,

I am really enjoying my retirement from addiction advocacy work. You never know how time-consuming something is until you stop doing it! It was an amazing five years, though, and I have no regrets. I learned a lot about something (addiction) that I knew nothing about, and I met some really great people along the way, many of whom will be lifelong friends, I’m sure!

I’m filling up my time enjoying the simple life. I’ve discovered a passion for baking. I love trying new recipes and seeing how they turn out. I also enjoy making double batches so that I can share with others.  It feels good to spread some love through baking.

My 4-year-old granddaughter loves our baking time. She gets to pick what we bake when she comes over for her sleepovers. One of her favourite things is cupcakes because she gets to pick what colour icing we’ll have. I always let her pick three different colours. One day, she chose pink, green and purple.  I told her that I'd never made purple icing before but that we would give it a try. I explained how we would have to mix blue and red to get purple and then hope that it turns out for us. She stirred the icing with great anticipation as it turned different shades and then eventually purple. She said, "Nanny, it worked! We're geniuses!"  This is just one of the many memories created during my first month of retirement. Life is good!

While I am retired from addictions advocacy, I did take the opportunity to do a couple of things that I felt were important to the cause. As my beautiful friend, Roni Power, says, “You can’t keep a passionate woman down.” She is right so I will continue to contribute to the conversation from time to time.

First, I was interviewed by Aaron Sankin with The Daily Dot who was doing a story on the addiction research that University of Prince Edward Island is conducting on the program CBT4CBT. Anyone who has ever followed my work knows that I am always advocating for as many treatment and recovery options to be available as possible. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. This was a great opportunity to help spread the word about a promising new option. The online program that may revolutionize addiction treatment  

I also wrote an opinion piece for The Guardian about the legalization of marijuana because there are a lot of myths out there that keep getting spread around. I wanted to make sure that people who haven’t done the research on it themselves had an opportunity to hear from a few reputable organizations that are in favour of legalization and why. Please take the time to get informed before supporting any initiative that wants to keep things as they are. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  Legalization of Marijuana: Good Drug Policy . Here is CAMH’s “Cannabis Policy Framework” that I mentioned in the letter. 

 Thank you for visiting.



Thursday, 31 December 2015

Thank you for walking with me

My friends,

On this final day of my addictions advocacy work, I wanted to take the time to say thank you for being part of my journey and for allowing me to be a part of yours. Since I announced my retirement from advocacy work earlier in the month, I’ve received some beautiful messages that really touched my heart.  This whole journey has been filled with beautiful connections with people that I will treasure for the rest of my life. Thank you for walking with me.

Though I am writing this final good-bye with tears in my eyes, my heart is happy. I am looking forward to what the next phase of my life will bring. I’m ready to take on new challenges and to create great memories with my family.

If you are in a battle with an addiction (yours or a loved one’s), please don’t ever give up.  Recovery is possible for everyone. There are no lost causes.  Where there is life, there is hope.

I wish you all the best in 2016!

With love and appreciation,


Sunday, 6 December 2015

Time to say Good-Bye!

Dear friends and family,

It is with a peaceful heart that I announce that on January 1, I will be saying good-bye to my advocacy work, and hello to the next chapter of my life. After five years of complete dedication to the cause, it is time. I am looking forward to a slower pace in life and just enjoying all that life has to offer.

I started my journey to advocacy in 2011 when I began to get educated about addiction and joined the newly formed committee called “Island Addiction Movement”. At that time, I never could have imagined where this was going to take me. It has been an incredible journey that has forever changed who I am in some really good ways. I am much stronger and confident now because I know what I’m capable of. I also don’t sweat the small stuff. These are all good things.

My advocacy work kept me very busy on top of working my full-time job and, of course, being there for my beautiful family. But, I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. I was doing exactly what I was meant to be doing. I knew that with every ounce of my being.

I have been healed for four years now, and my son is over two years into his healing and recovery. We are blessed and grateful. It is time to move on and enjoy our lives free from addiction, knowing that we helped in some way to make the journey a little less hard for others who came, or will come, after us.  While the system is still not perfect, it is much better than it was when our son reached out for help years ago. We have done what we set out to do.

Through tears and smiles, I took a walk down memory lane by creating a summary of my advocacy work so that I would have something to look back on. I am so glad that I did that because I had already forgotten about some things. I am posting it on my blog to share with anyone who is interested in the hopes that it will inspire others to find their voices, even in a small way.  If you do find yours, I guarantee that you will not only empower yourself, but you will empower so many others, too.

I am proud of what I’ve accomplished and I have no regrets. Every time I penned a letter, walked up to a podium, researched addiction, or something else, I did it with love and compassion, wanting nothing more than to help people who were hurting. I would regularly ask God to give me guidance on what He wanted me to do next, if this was indeed what He wanted me to be doing. Needless to say, He kept me busy!

I could not have accomplished any of it without the support of my loving husband and beautiful children and granddaughter. However, I owe the biggest thanks to my son because none of this would have been possible without his permission to share parts of his life with you. He is my hero.

I am so grateful for the friends that I made along the way, and for the people who trusted me with their deepest secrets and worst fears when they reached out to me for help.

I am also thankful for people like Karen Mair from CBC who was always so supportive and had us on her show to talk about things that we were doing, and Jim Day from the Guardian who was the first reporter that I spoke to when our family went public and he was so kind to this nervous mom.

I am grateful for those of you who followed my work by visiting my blog, sharing my posts, and so on, and to those of you who invited me to be part of your events.

Thank you all! I reached people because of YOU!

Although, I am no longer going to be involved with addiction and advocacy, many of the things I was involved with will continue. Roni Power will continue to be an admin on our various Facebook groups, including the Island Addiction Movement. Our fantastic SMART Recovery team will continue on with the meetings, and Roni will continue to run the family support group that we started together.  

I will continue to co-chair our SMART Recovery family & friends group and post daily on my blog and Facebook pages until December 31st. I may post on my blog from time to time in the future, if something inspires me to do so. Please be sure to bookmark or follow my blog so that you will receive any new posts. 

In closing, I would like to ask Premier Wade MacLauchlan, Health Minister Doug Currie, and others in government to incorporate the recommendations that the Mental Health and Addictions Advisory Council will be putting before them at some point. As a member of the Advisory Council, I worked hard and I know that the others at the table did as well. Please don’t let the document collect dust. This issue is too important to the lives of all Islanders (whether they realize it right now or not).

Thank you all for everything.

Much love and peace,

PS: Here is the link to my SUMMARY OF ADVOCACY.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Grieving Moms on Harm Reduction

Left to right: Ronnie Power, organizer and addictions advocate; Donna May, mumsDU panellist; Petra Schulz, mumsDU panellist; Barb MacKay, attendee; Rose Barbour, organizer and addictions advocate; Donald MacPherson, Director of Canadian Drug Policy Coalition and event sponsor

Our Harm Reduction: A Family Focus panel presentation on October 29th was a very powerful event. Our room at the Reach Centre was packed. Outside, we filled two parking lots. Our panel members were knowledgeable and experienced. Our audience was engaged. We couldn’t have asked for anything more.

The stigma with harm reduction and addiction treatment programs is deadly. Ronnie Power (co-organizer) and I have known many people who felt rushed to come off of their addictions medication (methadone, suboxone) or who felt they had to hide that they were on medications instead of being able to fully embrace and celebrate their new life in recovery. Some would even go so far as to tell them "you're not clean" or "you've just traded one drug for another."

This pressure on individuals to come off of the very medication that is saving their lives can lead to relapse and/or death. There are other harm reduction programs that are also stigmatized despite the important work that they do. This is why we chose harm reduction as the topic of discussion.

There are many harms associated with drug and alcohol use that affect individuals, families and communities. Harm reduction reduces these harms through evidence-based solutions.  Not everyone is able to obtain abstinence right away so we have to meet them where they’re at. As Tom Adams, Addictions System Navigator, said in his presentation, “Abstinence says we can’t help you unless you give it all up whereas harm reduction says ‘come on in and we’ll help you with that problem that has been giving you so much grief’.”

Both of our moms, Donna and Petra, feel that if they had known about or understood harm reduction programs better their children might still be alive today. Petra shared, “Had we not pushed him so much to get off things and on with life, it would have maybe given him a better chance. Harm reduction is one of the greatest kept secrets. If there is a message that I have for parents it is to keep them safe so they can make a better decision on another day.” Donna feels that her tough love approach caused her to miss some pivotal moments where she could have helped to set a new path for her daughter, which may have resulted in a different outcome. This is why they travel the country to educate. They don't want another family to have to bury a loved one because they don't have the right information.

Thank you to our major sponsor the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition (CDPC) and our other sponsors mumsDU, SMARTRecovery PEI, and the Reach Centre.  This event was part of a cross Canada conversation on drug policy and harm reduction that the CDPC has started this fall.

Thank you to our panel members: Donald MacPherson, Director, Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, Donna May, mumsDU, Petra Schulz, mumsDU, Ann Marie Carr, Public Health Nursing, Needle Exchange Program and Tom Adams, Addictions System Navigator.

Here is the entire presentation that was taped by Pat Martel. Please watch and share.

Please click here to listen to the interview that Donna May from mumsDU and I did on CBC’s Island Morning.

Here are some photos from the evening.

Thank you to those who came out to the presentation, our fabulous volunteers, and to the visitors on my blog for reading about it and watching the video. Together, we can end the stigma and save lives.


Friday, 16 October 2015

Harm Reduction: A Family Focus (EVENT)

Harm Reduction: A Family Focus

Because it could be anyone's child

Ronnie Power and Rose Barbour are pleased to invite you to a powerful and important panel presentation entitled “Harm Reduction: A Family Focus”. 

Harm reduction aims to keep people safe and minimize death, disease, and injury from high risk behaviour such as drug use. It involves a range of support services and strategies to enhance the knowledge, skills, resources, and supports for individuals, families and communities to be safer and healthier.

Our major sponsor, the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, is bringing people in from across Canada to join our panel to share their stories and knowledge with Islanders. The goal is to educate individuals, families, professionals, and the public on the importance of harm reduction in our province as it pertains to drug use. PEI has harm reduction programs that are saving lives every day. We’ll hear more about them as well.

Panelists will include: 

Donna May, moms united and mandated to saving the lives of Drug Users (Toronto)
Petra Schulz,
moms united and mandated to saving the lives of Drug Users (Edmonton)
Donald MacPherson, Executive Director, Canadian Drug Policy Coalition (Vancouver)
Ann Marie Carr, Health PEI, Public Health Nursing, Provincial Needle Exchange Program
Tom Adams
Addictions System Navigator, Health PEI, Addictions Services

Sadly, two of our panelists, Donna and Petra, have lost children to addiction. Connected by grief, they joined with other moms to form a group called “moms united and mandated to saving the lives of Drug Users” (mumsDU). As panelists, they will share their stories of loss and how access to harm reduction programs may have saved their children. They share their powerful and painful stories to raise awareness in the hopes of affecting change so that another mother doesn’t have to bury her child. 

You can get more information about our panelists on their websites:

Canadian Drug Policy Coalition:

moms united and mandated to saving the lives of Drug Users:

Place: Reach Centre, 223 Mason Road, Stratford
Date: October 29, 2015
Time: 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Cost: FREE

RSVP: Rose at or Ronnie at 902-892-4643

We hope to see you there!

Friday, 9 October 2015

A great success!

Left to right: Nicole Publicover, Roni Wakelin Power, Cheryl Roche, and Rose Barbour 

The Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Possible book launch and signing on Tuesday was a great success. Thank you to all who came out to purchase books in support of the Reach Centre, a wonderful and important program for young Islanders in recovery. I am thrilled to tell you that you helped to raise almost $1,000. Well done everyone!

Tomorrow (October 10th), I will be going up to my old stomping grounds in West Prince for a book signing at JC Handyman Services & Sales in Alberton from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm. All proceeds from the book sales will also support the Reach Centre. Looking forward to seeing everyone!