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“Toast of the Town” honours former Oiler Barrie Stafford and helps to raise more than $600 thousand for Colon Cancer and Multiple Myeloma research

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photo of Barry Stafford at Toast of the Town
Scroll down for photo galleries of this year’s event.

“I’m a lucky sonofabitch!” – Barrie Stafford

This year’s 31st Annual Day of Golf, held over the past 2 days at the Derrick Golf and Winter Club raised in excess of $600,000 for the Cure Cancer Foundation, with funds this year going to support research and patients at the Cross Cancer Institute and research into multiple myeloma and colon cancer.  In its now 31 years, the tournament has raised more than $16 million dollars.

Grant Fuhr co-hosted this year’s tournament along with Oiler royalty Glenn Anderson who has been involved since day 1.

This year, a companion event was added.  The Toast of the Town, held at Polar Park, honoured long time Oilers trainer and equipment manager Barrie Stafford. Barrie was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in 2011.

Stafford spoke passionately about his fight with the disease after being diagnosed in 2011.

“My whole life I’ve been a very health conscious person. I was struggling with pain, couldn’t sleep, and just wasn’t feeling right. I came face to face with my mortality and didn’t know if I was going to live or die.”

Research into multiple myeloma has extended his life dramatically.

The night had some real high points for fans of the great Oiler’s dynasty of the ’80’s.  Greeting came from Jari Kurri and Paul Coffey. Ryan Smith sent a video with some really kind words.  It was a hug from Smith that broke Stafford’s collar bone and led to him being hospitalized and diagnosed with the disease back in 2011.

Mark Messier sent a video that started simply with “Hey Staff – it’s Mess.”.  He went on to talk about the incredible influence Stafford had on him as a young player in Edmonton.

Marty McSorley entertained everyone, and drew a big laugh as he recalled getting Stafford to sharpen his skates for him when he was playing against the Oilers with LA.  Stafford said at the time “If Sather ever finds out, I’m going to get fired!”

The Great One himself, Wayne Gretzky said in note that was read out that “Barrie is not just a trainer. He’s a fan.  He’s a player.”

Speaking of his playing days, two of Stafford’s teammates from the Amarillo Wranglers where he played as a 20 year old and where he was known as a “tough guy”, were in the crowd to honour him as well.

In Alberta, there are 300 people suffering from Multiple Myeloma.  The Cure Cancer Foundation is a new organization.  Their goal is to cut as much cost from their fundraising efforts as possible, relying almost exclusively on volunteers to organize and manage the event. It’s a grassroots movement to generate funding for initiatives at the Cross Cancer Institute—including research, diagnosis, treatment and patient care

This year’s inaugural Toast of the Town  generated $110,000 of the $600,000 2-day total.

Now, onto more fun!

Once again this year, the golf tournament was a great success – held at the Derrick Golf and Winter Club in terrific weather, with great volunteers, and a whole lot of fun reconnecting with some of our hockey heroes of the past.

This year’s winners turned in an impressive -13 in the best ball format.  Congratulations to Al Sim, Craig Simpson, Terry Loewen, Duane Sokalski, and Gary Ziehr.

Al Sim, Craig Simpson, Terry Loewen, Duane Sokalski, Gary Ziehr

If you were at either the Toast of the Town or the 31st Annual Day of Golf, there is a good chance that your photo is included in the galleries below.  Please share this story and spread the word about the amazing people of our city who put so much into helping others.

These photo galleries were sponsored by The Creative Hive, a new co-working space on Edmonton’s west end featuring a large natural light studio and plenty of quirky things to make your workday special.  These photos are from yesterday’s golf tournament and were shot by Walter Tychnowicz.

CLICK ANY PHOTO TO OPEN A SLIDE SHOW.

Thanks again to the Creative Hive and photographer Chad Kruger for supplying this gallery of photos from Wednesday night’s Toast of the Town event.

Click any photo to open a slide show.

Click to learn more about the Cure Cancer Foundation.

 

 

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Addictions

‘Harm Reduction’ is killing B.C.’s addicts. There’s got to be a better way

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From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Susan Martinuk 

B.C. recently decriminalized the possession of small amounts of illicit drugs. The resulting explosion of addicts using drugs in public spaces, including parks and playgrounds, recently led the province’s NDP government to attempt to backtrack on this policy

Since 2016, more than 40,000 Canadians have died from opioid drug overdoses — almost as many as died during the Second World War.
Governments, health care professionals and addiction experts all acknowledge that widespread use of opioids has created a public health crisis in Canada. Yet they agree on virtually nothing else about this crisis, including its causes, possible remedies and whether addicts should be regarded as passive victims or accountable moral agents.

Fuelled by the deadly manufactured opioid fentanyl, Canada’s national drug overdose rate stood at 19.3 people per 100,000 in 2022, a shockingly high number when compared to the European Union’s rate of just 1.8. But national statistics hide considerable geographic variation. British Columbia and Alberta together account for only a quarter of Canada’s population yet nearly half of all opioid deaths. B.C.’s 2022 death rate of 45.2/100,000 is more than double the national average, with Alberta close behind at 33.3/100,00.

In response to the drug crisis, Canada’s two western-most provinces have taken markedly divergent approaches, and in doing so have created a natural experiment with national implications.

B.C. has emphasized harm reduction, which seeks to eliminate the damaging effects of illicit drugs without actually removing them from the equation. The strategy focuses on creating access to clean drugs and includes such measures as “safe” injection sites, needle exchange programs, crack-pipe giveaways and even drug-dispensing vending machines. The approach goes so far as to distribute drugs like heroin and cocaine free of charge in the hope addicts will no longer be tempted by potentially tainted street drugs and may eventually seek help.

But safe-supply policies create many unexpected consequences. A National Post investigation found, for example, that government-supplied hydromorphone pills handed out to addicts in Vancouver are often re-sold on the street to other addicts. The sellers then use the money to purchase a street drug that provides a better high — namely, fentanyl.

Doubling down on safe supply, B.C. recently decriminalized the possession of small amounts of illicit drugs. The resulting explosion of addicts using drugs in public spaces, including parks and playgrounds, recently led the province’s NDP government to attempt to backtrack on this policy — though for now that effort has been stymied by the courts.

According to Vancouver city councillor Brian Montague, “The stats tell us that harm reduction isn’t working.” In an interview, he calls decriminalization “a disaster” and proposes a policy shift that recognizes the connection between mental illness and addiction. The province, he says, needs “massive numbers of beds in treatment facilities that deal with both addictions and long-term mental health problems (plus) access to free counselling and housing.”

In fact, Montague’s wish is coming true — one province east, in Alberta. Since the United Conservative Party was elected in 2019, Alberta has been transforming its drug addiction policy away from harm reduction and towards publicly-funded treatment and recovery efforts.

Instead of offering safe-injection sites and free drugs, Alberta is building a network of 10 therapeutic communities across the province where patients can stay for up to a year, receiving therapy and medical treatment and developing skills that will enable them to build a life outside the drug culture. All for free. The province’s first two new recovery centres opened last year in Lethbridge and Red Deer. There are currently over 29,000 addiction treatment spaces in the province.

This treatment-based strategy is in large part the work of Marshall Smith, current chief of staff to Alberta’s premier and a former addict himself, whose life story is a testament to the importance of treatment and recovery.

The sharply contrasting policies of B.C. and Alberta allow a comparison of what works and what doesn’t. A first, tentative report card on this natural experiment was produced last year in a study from Stanford University’s network on addiction policy (SNAP). Noting “a lack of policy innovation in B.C.,” where harm reduction has become the dominant policy approach, the report argues that in fact “Alberta is currently experiencing a reduction in key addiction-related harms.” But it concludes that “Canada overall, and B.C. in particular, is not yet showing the progress that the public and those impacted by drug addiction deserve.”

The report is admittedly an early analysis of these two contrasting approaches. Most of Alberta’s recovery homes are still under construction, and B.C.’s decriminalization policy is only a year old. And since the report was published, opioid death rates have inched higher in both provinces.

Still, the early returns do seem to favour Alberta’s approach. That should be regarded as good news. Society certainly has an obligation to try to help drug users. But that duty must involve more than offering addicts free drugs. Addicted people need treatment so they can kick their potentially deadly habit and go on to live healthy, meaningful lives. Dignity comes from a life of purpose and self-control, not a government-funded fix.

Susan Martinuk is a senior fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy and author of the 2021 book Patients at Risk: Exposing Canada’s Health Care Crisis. A longer version of this article recently appeared at C2CJournal.ca.

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