Spread the love

Thirty thousand Canadians have died from a fentanyl-related overdose since 2016. Among them, Ezekiel Aubé-Gauthier, a 21-year-old from Sherbrooke. In the midst of a pandemic, without access to a doctor, this student who was experiencing anxiety problems turned to drugs bought on the street to calm his suffering. If he thought he had bought Xanax, it was fentanyl that killed him.

Ezekiel, 21, thought he bought Xanax , but it was fentayl that killed him.

Open in full screen mode

There is a before and after December 29, 2021 for Sébastien Aubé. “There is something broken inside of me. I usually don't give a damn about anything. I don't know how to explain it, but something has been broken inside me since that day. »

  • Geneviève Proulx (View profile)Geneviève Proulx

“Ezekiel was a very quiet child, a sportsman with a little artistic side. He was very open to the world, a little anti-globalizationist, very left-wing social-democrat with great values ​​that I liked. He is a little boy who, throughout his life, has always made me proud. He was graduating in childhood education techniques. He had just gotten an acceptance letter for college. He wanted to become a teacher,” says his father, Sébastien Aubé, with a heart full of pride.

Open full screen

Ezekiel had been accepted into college to become a teacher. “He had a gift with children. That’s why he was in childhood education [at CEGEP],” emphasizes his father.

However, Ezekiel Aubé-Gauthier was never to set foot at university. A few days after Christmas, he was found dead just steps from his bed. It was his father who made the horrible discovery, one that no parent wants to experience. I opened the door and saw my son lying on the ground. For a moment you think he's sleeping, but he was dead. My first instinct is not to believe it. You wish time would stop. But at the same time, I know it's too late. Automatically, I called 911.

The first responders, who arrived in a hurry, confirmed the worst: it was too late. Ezekiel is no more.

Although nearly twenty calendar pages have been torn out since that horrible day, the pain is still as strong among the Aubés. Tears often flow as Sébastien recounts not only what happened in his house, but above all what broke his heart forever on December 29, 2021.

You are frozen in the face of incomprehension and pain that has no name. I have never experienced pain like this in my entire life. Never. Never.

A quote from Sébastien Aubé, father of Ezekiel

Downstairs in the kitchen, there is Ezekiel's sister, Emery Jane, eating dinner with her mother-in-law, Cleophe. I felt that it wasn't working, that it wasn't normal. When my father opened the door, I just heard silence. Afterwards, he started screaming. I ran to the top. When I arrived, I saw my father, then my brother. I really thought they were fooling me. It was their style to make jokesto me as well.

Even though she hoped deep down that Sebastian and Ezekiel had played the worst joke, Emery Jane knew that wasn't the case. I touched it, then it was cold. It's an image that I will never forget.

Remembering these painful images, the teenager looks to the sky as if she were going to draw from it the strength to continue his story. A necessary story to tell, she believes.

Open in full screen mode

It was at the top of these steps that Emery Jane saw her big brother alive for the last time.

Indeed, since then, Emery Jane has asked herself a thousand questions. Above all, she wonders if she could have changed anything about this tragic destiny. The night before, the sister and brother had crossed paths in the corridor leading to the bathroom. According to the coroner, Ezekiel’s death occurred around 2 a.m., shortly after this final encounter. I'll always blame myself, because… , she said, unable to finish her sentence, her eyes in the water.

Quickly after the call for help, this household in eastern Sherbrooke was invaded by police and investigators. Photos are taken in every corner. Interrogations are conducted separately. The place is searched from top to bottom. All have a common goal: to understand what could have killed Ezekiel, a young man in the prime of life.

The answer does not take long future. A policewoman comes down to the kitchen with a box full of things that neither Sébastien nor Emery Jane saw. She thought my son was selling drugs.

This was not the case. Ezekiel had instead created a personal pharmacy to relieve his suffering. At least this is the conclusion of coroner Gilles Sainton, responsible for shedding light on the causes and circumstances of this death.

Open in full screen mode

“I had so many good times with him and I'm so sad I won't have more! He was truly a confidant. He knew everything about my life before anyone else. It's special to have had that, because we were still seven years apart. I was really lucky to be close to my brother,” emphasizes Emery Jane.

According to him, the young man had to deal with a certain degree of distress and anxiety, but there is nothing to suggest that he became intoxicated with suicidal intent. It was a fatal but accidental poisoning, he wrote in his report.

A surprising discovery made in Ezekiel's computer threw then a new light on his last months of life. Police investigators found an electronic spreadsheet there, a type of Excel file in which he methodically recorded all the drugs he took.

He wrote down what he consumed from July until the time of his death. We see what he took, the quantity, the time and the effects it had on him. It’s as if we were able to have a daily diary of our consumption. For example, on December 1, we understand that he took meth and flualprazolam, explains Mr. Aubé.

This is what allowed Coroner Sainton to conclude that: since there was no mention indicating that he consumed fentanyl [in his computer document] […], this suggests that Mr. Aubé-Gauthier did not know that he was going to consume fentanyl.

Clearly, Ezekiel consumed a drug cut with this powerful opioid without know it.

No matter how careful he thought he was, he still died. Who does this [record their consumption]? The police had never seen this. We realized, after the fact, that my son had a sort of self-medication system, as if, daily, he took certain doses of speed and certain doses of Xanax to manage his anxiety and his sleep. , his concentration, summarizes Sébastien Aubé, still surprised.

In addition to documenting his consumption, Ezekiel recorded several pieces of information about his health. He did his sleep charts and kept statistics. He wrote: "I managed to sleep about so many hours every day." I see this today and I see a young person who was experiencing anxiety but who also had insomnia, like probably many, many people, and who thought he was doing the right thing by treating it like that, his father analyzes.

The coroner told me that this type of consumption was recreational. In his mind, it wasn't good for your health, but it wasn't enough to kill someone. It was really the presence of fentanyl that killed him.

A quote from Sébastien Aubé, father of Ezekiel

The father also had access to the purchase log recorded in Ezekiel's cell phone. We saw what he ordered and it’s ridiculous how cheap it is. It's like peanuts. That works out to $1.50 per pill. It seems that the stronger it is, the cheaper it is, he laments.

Ezekiel lived his last months of life in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Between distance learning, confinements and isolation, the young man's daily life proved difficult to bear. We had access to his entire life which was documented on Facebook, with notes, his cell phone. He didn't take it before the pandemic. He is one of the young people for whom isolation has not helped. He went looking for answers or some kind of comfort [in medications] and, ironically, with money from the CERB [Canadian Emergency Benefit], saddened Mr. Aubé.

His family maintains that Ezekiel tried to see a doctor in the weeks before his death. It was really hard to get appointments and then get seen by a doctor. He wanted, but he got nothing, laments Emery Jane.

As a parent, you feel stupid for not having known, not having seen, not having… It's not fair that it fell on a 21 year old who had the future ahead of him. As a parent, I hate myself. It's like a feeling of immense failure.

A quote from Sébastien Aubé, father of Ezekiel

Open in full screen mode

There is a before and after December 29, 2021 for Sébastien Aubé. “There is something broken inside of me. I usually don't give a damn about anything. Now, I don't know how to explain it, but something has been broken inside me since that day. »

Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine. A single dose of 2 mg can be fatal. Since 2016, the drug has caused the deaths of 30,000 Canadians, accounting for 75 per cent of all overdoses in the country, according to Health Canada. In Sherbrooke, in coroner's reports made public since January 1, 2022, there are four deaths linked to an overdose of this opioid. The picture is perhaps less gloomy than elsewhere in the country in this regard, but seizures of illegal medications are frequent, according to the Sherbrooke Police Service (SPS).

We are talking about a lot of tablets, derivative drugs and tablets from the opiate family: hydromorphone, oxycodone, Hydromorph Contin, all these types of tablets which are prescribed to people for health problems and which are stolen or derived from the market legal to be resold illegally on the street market. There are also a lot of benzodiazepines, Ativan, Valium, Xanax, explains Sébastien Ouimet, captain of the Operational and Administrative Support Division at the SPS.If users of these street drugs believe that they are obtaining proper medication, nothing is less certain, he warns. There are clandestine laboratories that manufacture tablets that give the impression of being tablets that come from a legal laboratory, from a pharmaceutical company. We cannot know with certainty what we are consuming. The risks can, with one tablet, [go] as far as death. It's really dangerous.

It is to avoid tragedies like that of Ezekiel that the CIUSSS de l’Estrie-CHUS, in concert with the organizations IRIS Estrie and Élixir, acquired a new drug analysis device called a spectrometer. This tool will allow consumers to know the exact composition of the substances they have in their possession. For the moment, no date of entry into service of the device is known. The project is going well, there are still some [legal] aspects to finalize so that the device can be used in the Elixir premises, indicates the CIUSSS de l'Estrie-CHUS by email.

Ezekiel's father is categorical: he is convinced that his son would have been a user of this type of machine. Seeing how he behaved, documenting what he was consuming, I am 100% convinced that he would have tested what he was taking. That's for sure.

And maybe…, let the father and daughter down.

This type of acquisition, which may be frowned upon by some people, can save lives. It can also give the possibility of making interventions with these people.

A quote from Sébastien Aubé, father of Ezekiel

Since that fatal day that stole his big brother, Emery Jane has made it a point to speak openly of the devastation that a single dose of fentanyl can create. Openly, without shame. With her Instagram account, she also wants to make people understand that these tragedies can occur in all families, even the most perfect.

Open in full screen mode

It was a holiday at the Aubé family when the reaper passed by. The youngest, Iñigo Antonin, celebrated his second birthday that day. “It was ironic to see the police arriving, with party balloons everywhere, as if it were joyful,” recalls Sébastien Aubé. (Archive photo)

Above all, she wants to make as many people as possible aware of naloxone, a medication that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.

It's something that everyone should have in their home, because you never know what can happen. It can happen at a party, in your own house, at your neighbor's house, you never know, she insists. It can save someone's life while waiting for paramedics and first responders.

Even though this medication is free and available without a prescription at the pharmacy, the teenager wants naloxone to be distributed in schools so that as many people as possible have it on hand. Just in case.

What needs to change is that people need to feel concerned, so that they can know that it can happen to them, even if they have perfect families, repeats Sébastien Aubé.

Ezekiel, he looks like the little boy next door, then the other one the other side. If it happened in my family, it could happen in yours.

A quote from Sébastien Aubé, father of Ezekiel

Open in full screen mode

“I don't know the other parents, but I don't want that to happen to them. If we can just save at least one…”, underlines Sébastien Aubé. (Archive photo)

  • Geneviève Proulx (View profile)Geneviève ProulxFollow
Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116