Connect with us

Community

Lone Ranger and the Riders of Justice Chapter 12

Published

33 minute read

CHAPTER TWELVE

GRAND CANYON SUITE

“Kemo Sabe, how many outlaws are left?”   Tonto asked the Ranger during  a lull in the melee.

The Masked man, standing high in Silvers stirrups surveyed the battleground quickly,  his dark piercing eyes catching all the important details in their scan of the cacophony.

He turned and looked towards Tonto.

‘About twenty or twenty five Tonto,  now we outnumber them!”  he said enthusiastically.

Just as quickly as the battle waned,  it resumed as the remaining outlaws charged once more.

Bracing themselves for the brutal onslaught,  the tired ranchers formed a defensive wall.  The Lone Ranger, Tonto,  Monte Hale,  Rex Allen, Gabby Hayes,  the Harts, Tex Ritter and crew, Tim McCoy and his outriders;  all lined up,  their pistols still hot and smoking  as they stood tall and defiant to face the bloodthirsty outlaws final surge!

The outlaws, battered, bruised and wounded stared ahead at the growing line of vengeful determined ranchers.

Fear grew within their villainous breasts as man by man,  they looked to the man beside them.   Left, then right,  each man assessed his sideman and finally, faced front again.

By now the moon was almost mid sky, and the shadows of the ranchers were eerie dancers on the uneven beat up ground.    Slowly,  gun barrel reflections of white light met each outlaws gaze as they surveyed  the wide line of vengeance before them.

More men joined in the ever widening swath of ranchers .  Bob Nolan,  Pat Brady, Dusty Rogers, and Sunset Carson had galloped up and merged with the ranchers.

The masked outlaw leader,  waiting in line with the outlaws, waved the desperate men forward.  Over poorly lit ground, they walked slowly at first, guns raised in preparation for a final shoot out!  The masked leader walked one step behind, examining all he could see.

The Lone Ranger yelled out.

“Forward men!”

Like two columns of marching Roman centurions,  the desperate groups  moved towards a certain collision with destiny.  A charged silence filled the air between the two approaching masses of men.  The ground, trampled and torn, bore signs of recent violence, and the anger   in the air screamed the promise of more!

Fear showed in every outlaws numbers  as the ranchers neared.  The masked leader,  still walking a step behind,  sensing certain defeat, yelled …

“CHARGE!!!”

The outlaws, waiting  for the sign to attack,  ran forward desperately.  Guns held high, each outlaw fired his brace of ammunition.  Reloading, they fired again, and again.

The ranchers led by the Ranger and Roy, met the villainous onslaught with courage born of confidence.  The outlaw bullets did little harm to the revenge driven cattlemen.   A few fell back with slight wounds, then recovering from the hot stings,  rejoined their comrades.

“GET’EM BOYS!”  the Ranger shouted as he lifted his pistol, and fired, and fired.

Roy Rogers,  beside the Ranger, charged into the mass of fighting men, pistols held high and blazing.   All around him, rancher fought outlaw, and with one sure result; death or capture for the evil doer!

The masked leader, fighting for his life with a rancher spotted Roy out of the corner of his eye.  he feigned left, then punched right felling the exhausted rancher.  Roy, seeing the man fall, plunged towards the mysterious leader.

“Rogers!  Come get me”  he taunted.

Roy reached the hooded man, and leaping upon the outlaw leader, pulled him to the ground.

The leader, somewhat hampered by his disguise, rolled Roy off into the moist hardback.

“Give yourself up!”  Roy shouted.

Roy stood up, and slipped.

The masked leader,  sensing that defeat was close at hand,  jumped up and mounted his horse in desperation.  Taking a quick look around the melee, he reined his horse around, back again and then fled!

“Come back, you coward!”  Roy shouted.

The masked  leader kicked at the lunging cowboy.  Missing Roy by a couple of inches, he spurred his horse onward.

Roy Rogers, ducking to avert the outlaw leaders silver tipped boot, fell onto the trampled ground again.

The masked leader galloped desperately away from the battle scene.  One thought filled his mind-ESCAPE!!  Pushing his mount mercilessly, he looked back and saw Roy rising from the ground dazed somewhat.  Turning frontwards, he leaned down and fled for his life!

Roy Rogers, getting up from the ground looked up to see through blurry eyes.  Shaking his head to clear the cobwebs,  he called out.

“Here Trigger” and he whistled.

Trigger, not far away, galloped enthusiastically towards Roy.  Roy,  running alongside Trigger,  mounted him mid gallop.  He quickly reined Trigger around toward the fleeing outlaw leader.

“Come on boy, he’s got a big lead on us!” Roy shouted to Trigger.

Trigger accelerated strongly, the cool night air rushing across his face and bruising his lungs.  Dust flew as his hooves beat out a tune that could only be called JUSTICE!

Roy urged Trigger on, as the outlaw ahead pushed his mount brutally.   the distance between them was steadily decreasing.   One hundred, ninety, eight yards… and closer.

A shot from the outlaw puffed back and went wide.  A second came a little closer.  Roy pulled his silver handled pistol out and took careful bead, then fired once.

By now,  Roy and Trigger had closed the gap down to twenty yards.

Roy pushed Trigger onward, with the outlaw this close nothing could stop them.  Triggers golden mane, waving in the rushing wind shimmered ghostly in the moonlight.  Like a pair of rushing gladiators smelling victory, Roy and Trigger were transformed into avenging angels.

The outlaw leader,  now scant yards away, looked back with fear in his eyes.  His horse, stopped short as Trigger and Roy outran the pair briefly.  Turning quickly, Roy and Trigger met the outlaw pairs attack head on.

Trigger reared up in response to the chestnuts menacing hooves.  Roy,  balancing on Triggers back, tensed in preparation for the final battle.    Trigger struck out with his left hoof, the chestnut reeled back.  Striking out in retaliation, the chestnut nicked Triggers shoulder drawing blood with a sharp shoe.  Trigger, lashed out with both hooves,  the other horse recoiled in fear and stepped back and down again.  Trigger landed on his front hooves and attacked again and again.

Silhouetted in the moonlight, the mounted riders looked like ghosts dueling eternally over some long forgotten disagreement.  Triggers mane,  adopting  the shimmery translucence of the silvery light,  whirled as if tethered to an invisible line.  Roy’s figure, against the moon,  loomed mightily over the masked leaders as the horses, tired by their exertion,  planted themselves firmly on the  ground.  The chestnut, beaten by Triggers pummeling hooves, succumbed to the golden stallion.

Roy, sensing victory for Trigger, urged him closer to the outlaw pair.  Leaping  from his saddle, Roy landed on the frantic outlaw leader and pulled him to the ground.

Roy, atop the masked leader, punched once, twice.  The masked evildoer, arched his back and sent Roy flying through the air.

Blood dripping out of the leaders mask minimized his vision.  His fear of dying drove him on!  The leader ran and jumped on Roy dazing him temporarily.

Taking his pistol out of his holster he grabbed the barrel end and swung towards Roy.

Ducking to avoid the heavy pistol end, Roy  swung out with his right fist.  Connecting with the outlaws blood drenched chin solidly, Roy felt a snap.

The leaders head jerked back and his body followed.  The masked outlaw rolled off Roy onto the ground, his pistol falling harmlessly to the side.

Roy sat up and knelt beside the stunned outlaw.  He wiped his mouth with his gloved hand.

Finding his hat in the dirt, Roy picked it up and knocked the dust off.  Placing it on his head, he turned and looked at the outlaw.

In the moonlight his menace was diminished, thickening blood shone black in the silvery glow.  Roy stood up and rolled the masked leader over.  He reached down and pulled the mask off.

The moonlight fell upon the face of Sheriff Bill Stockton!

Roy whistled.

“So, our suspicions were right” he said.

Roy walked over to Trigger, took his lasso off and tied Bill up.  Wrapping the outlaw sheriff tightly, Roy threw him onto his tired chestnut.   Whinnying in protest, the horse struggled with the dead weigh of the sheriff/outlaw leader.

“Come on boy.  We’ll go slow” Roy said soothingly.

Breathing the cool prairie air, Roy whistled a nameless tune.  Trigger, nodding in response, sauntered over beside where Roy was standing.  Roy placed his left foot in the stirrup, grasped the horn, and back, then swung up into the well worn saddle.

“Let’s go Trigger, take it easy.   We’ve got ourselves a tag along”  Roy said as he rubbed the palominos  neck.

Trigger whinnied and tossed his head from left to right.

“Don’t worry, we’ll get your cut washed out too.  If you’re lucky, the vet’ll have a girl patient there too.  Or we’ll get Tonto to fix you up.” Roy said to comfort Trigger.

Roy turned Trigger.  The chestnut caboose followed and headed off towards Rex’s place.

As the masked outlaw leader  fled from Roy, the remaining villains were battling viciously.  Like trapped wolves they used every weapon at their disposal; teeth, knives, boots,  even mud.  The sounds of hand to hand combat intermingled with the echoes of gunfire drifted over to the ranch where Mary Sterling waited for the battle to end and peace to begin once more.

Now and then, Gabby’s voice could be heard over the lull.

“Got ya varmint”  of “Drop it polecat.  I’ve got you covered.”

As the outlaw numbers diminished,  strength and resolve  of the ranchers increased.

Twisting his head quickly y from side to side and scanning as well as he could in the moonlight, Ace’s sharp vision caught the lunar sparkle from the masked leaders disguise.   Much to his surprise, the leader glanced back, kicked out at a flying Roy Rogers, then turned and galloped off!

Above the din, he yelled to the surviving outlaws.

“Men- Scatter!”

Each man found his horse, then fled as well as he could.  The ranchers, led by the Lone Ranger  and Tonto, fell upon the fleeing outlaws.

“Quick men!   They’re leaving!” he shouted.

Silver responded to the masked mans gentle commands- left here to cut a retreat, right to block an outlaw.  Tonto found the fleeing Ace Parker and gave chase.  Within a few hundred yards, Tonto and Scout overtook the villainous gunman.  The Indian flung Ace to the ground, Ace’s head ricocheting off a rock.    With savage fury Tonto swung once, twice, three, and out Ace Parker went.  Collapsing into a heap on the ground and  bleeding from half a dozen wounds, he whispered.

“You got me Indian.  You got me.”

All around the melee, whoops of victory filled the air.  Triumphant ranchers pulled back fleeing outlaws.  Some  men gathered the fallen together in a line.  The outlaws, some bound, some not, all bore signs of battle weariness. and failure.  The grinning ranchers, their faces battered but jubilant, slapped got down to the business of securing the prisoners.

Rex Allen found Koko, and pursued Trig Larson.  Trig Larson, too scared and confused to find a horse, bolted desperately.  Rex, in a couple of Koko’s strides  caught up him.  He lept upon the fleeing outlaw.  They went down.  Rex, landing squarely on Trigs back heard a crack.  Trig Larson let out a yell of pain.

“Ya broke my arm Allen!   I give up”  he howled.

Rex Allen stepped off Larson, and lifted him up by his good arm.  A surge of anger came over Rex.  He wanted to beat Trig Larson within an inch of his life, but he couldn’t.  They had won.

“Let’s go Larson.  You walk, I  ride”  Rex said grimly.

Trig Larson,  downcast,  started back towards Rex’s place.   Rex, atop Koko,  held back tears of gratitude.

Somehow tonight, the deaths of his friends and fellow ranchers had been avenged, and the dead now knew.

One by one,  the escaping outlaws found their retreat blocked by the inspired ranchers.  The Corrigans, Haydens, Ritters and Pierce Lyden all found their targets and bore down.  Some fights were quick,  some long, but the prospect of peace drove the ranchers to a feverish pace.  In the end, not one outlaw was left standing.  Some got killed in the battle, some just got shot escaping.

“Rex”  the Lone Ranger said to the exhausted ranch owner as he sauntered into the corral area, “It’s all over now.”

Rex , took his dirty hat off, and brushed his hand against the crest and sides.  He put his hat back on and smiled   a tired smile.

“Lone Ranger, I hope you’re right” he said, his hand on the Rangers shoulder.

The Ranger stood atop Silver and yelled.

“Men-bring the outlaws here.  We’ll tie them to the fence,”

The men grumbled.  One man spoke up.

“Let’s lynch’em!”

“They killed my pa!”

“They killed my uncle!”

The Ranger and Tonto looked around.  The men were poised to finish the night with more violence.  Rex  looked at the pair, concern showing on his face.

“Men, we have to hold them for the law.  If we don’t, we’re not better than …”

Roy Rogers came around the corner.  Reining Trigger back he dismounted and walked over to where the Ranger,  Rex and Tonto stood.    The flickering light evidenced Roy’s battle scars.  His dungarees and shirt, were  now stained brown and  red.

“What took so long Roy?”  Rex asked.

Roy pointed to the chestnut behind Trigger where the masked leader/Bill Stockton lay gagged and unmoving.

“He did”  Roy said smiling.  “But we took care of the both of them, didn’t we Trigger.”

Trigger whinnied in response to Roy’s praise.

Gene Autry and Champ rode into the circle of light with Snake Larson bound up behind on his horse.

“Wait for me boys.  I want to see who is behind all of our troubles”  Gene exclaimed.

The Lone Ranger motioned to Roy with his gloved hand.  All eyes and ears were focused on Roy and next few words.   He walked back to the burdened chestnut and grabbed the reins,  then led the horse towards the fire.  The air was filled with tension as Roy began to speak.

“Men.  When I was first hired as special deputy at your request.  I was sure that not much would happen.  Then, the masked man showed up.  I got ambushed.  A few other things happened too.  Today, we did a great thing and ended the tyranny from the gang that has held you in fear these last few months.    As the Lone Ranger was about to say,  the head of the outlaws is…” and Roy lifted the leaders head for all to see.  He removed the mask.  The flickering light  revealed the features of.

“BILL STOCKTON!”  Rex gasped.

Murmurs ran through the ranchers, neighbour looked at neighbour, and back again at the unconscious sheriff/outlaw leader.

“That’s what I figured.  Yep, I thought he was acting might strange lately.  If I was  a betting man,”  Gabby  drawled smacking his lips.

The Lone Ranger spoke up.,

“That’s why you can’t lynch the bunch of them.   If we do, we’re not better than they are”  the masked man continued on.  “Deputy Roy Rogers will look after the prisoners now.

Roy turned and gazed at the now subdued ranchers.

“Men.  As acting sheriff of Kievers Creek”  he said as the ranchers cheered.  “These men are all under arrest!”  Roy yelled.

“Taking  a rest is more like it”  Pat Brady whooped out.

Roy walked over to the wiggling sheriff, lifted him off the tired chestnut and dragged him over to the fence.  Reaching into Bills shirt, he pulled the shiny badge out, and pinned it on.

“Come on boys, lets log tie these critters”  Roy  said as he loosened the bonds and retied the ropes around the fence post.  Pulling the rope  to double tighten them, he looped the lasso around one more time,  then stepped aside.

Gene, standing beside Roy, tied Snake Larson up.  The other ranchers tied their bounty outlaws up.  Pretty soon,  twenty five outlaws lined Rex’s fence.

Reverend Pat Buttram stood up.

“To celebrate this auspicious occasion, that being the capture of the outlaw gang,  and a new sheriff I  propose a dance in town tomorrow night.”  he said in his reverend like voice.

Pat continued on.

“Let us give thanks for this evening boys.  For He was with us.”

The ranchers bowed their heads in prayer.

“Precious Lord, we thank thee for they deliverance tonight.  Thank you for safety, guidance, and those brave souls, who led us tonight.  Amen.”

“Amen “ Gene said quietly.

Rex looked at his ranch.   The moon, still shining bright lit the once neat yard, now filled with joyous ranchers.  The freshly painted corral fence, boasted outlaw trophy such as never had been seen before. A sigh of relief escaped Rex’s lips.    Peace was truly now back in Kievers Creek!   He stepped inside, Roy, Gene, Rex, The Ranger, and Tonto were sitting in the living room.    Dale had come in from town with cakes,  and squares.  The exhausted ranchers drank hot coffee and sampled Dales baking.  Dale, along with Rex’s recently returned wife served the tired cowboys.  Some snoozed in the corners, while others hungrily ate.

“Roy”  Dale said.

Roy looked up from his lunch.

“Yes Dale.”

“Well, after you take the outlaws into town later, you’d better uh…”

Roy looked at her, signaling her to finish.

“Uh….”

She squirmed  uncomfortably.

“Yes.”

“Take the two boys I  knocked out at my place earlier today”  she said.

Everyone  turned around, their curiosity piqued.  Roy looked surprised.

“The two boys you knocked out- how?”

Dale stood up straight.

“They were finishing their lunch around three o’clock and talking about killing you.  I couldn’t let that happen Roy.  I couldn’t”

“That’s mighty nice of you  Dale.  My alive body appreciates that.”  Roy replied smiling.

Gabby, sitting in the corner piped in.

“You’re darned tooting she couldn’t Roy.   She’s her fathers daughter through and through.    Just like when…” Gabby sputtered.

“Gabby, you can tell me later.  Would you go outside  and watch our scarecrows.”  Roy asked.

Gabby jumped up enthusiastically.

“Sure can Roy.  Sure can.”

Pat Brady stood up and left to go out with Gabby.  Tonto had been outside for a few minutes already.

“Have I ever told you about the time Pat when…” Gabby said as he and Pat went outdoors.

Dale continued.

“So after I heard the tall one say they were going to kill the new deputy.  I put the sleeping drops in their stew.  “

Roy raised his eyebrows.  Gene Autry laughed.

“A few minutes later, they  were out.   Snoring on their plates.   I tied them up the way Dad taught me.  Then I came here  a couple of hours later.”

Roy smiled in thanks, his eyes sparkling.

“Dale, that was dangerous.   But thanks again.”

The Lone Ranger spoke up.

“ Men,  there is one more thing you should know.  Tonto and I trailed the outlaws to a hidden box canyon some miles away.”

Gene’s eyes lit up.

“Of course.  Slyes Canyon!!!  It’d be the perfect hideout.  Bill never took the posses there, or even close before.  Of course, if he was the leader of the gang.   Why would he?”

The Ranger looked at Gene.

“You’re  right.  He could do what ever he wanted as the lawman.  Gentlemen, Tonto and I found close to a thousand cattle.  Some may be the missing cattle, and you can guarantee they’re not legal property.”

“Roy, why were the  outlaws so interested in running settlers off the land anyway?” Monte asked.

The Lone Ranger answered.

“Gentlemen.  The railroad is coming.”

“We know masked man,  known that for a while now.” Monte answered.

The Ranger nodded.

“Tonto followed Bill  and Lyle up to Blindmans Plateau.   Bill Stockton, Lyle, and Snake Larson overheard that the railroad man from Union Pacific could be this week.”

Gene nodded in agreement.

“With the railroad coming.   Kievers Creek will join the nation officially!”  Monte said enthusiastically.

The door crashed open.  Gabby rushed in, his bandanna flapping .

“Roy, Lone Ranger, Gene.  One of the no good for nothing owlhoots woke up.  He kept on mumbling something  about two hired gunnies that didn’t show up.  Texas Pete and Long Gun Mike.”

“Rex , do you have a map of  the territory?” the Lone Ranger asked.

“Yes I do.  Let me get it”  Rex answered.

Rex got up and left the room.  He returned a few minutes later, map in hand.  He laid it out flat on the large table.   The men gathered around.   The Lone Ranger pointed to Kievers Creek.

“Here is Kievers Creek.  And the raids have occurred here, here, here, and here”  he said, all eyes focused on the map.

Roy spoke up.

“Gene and I found the same thing out yesterday at his place.  As of  now the railroad is about one hundred miles away from here.  In about a year,  there’ll be tracks  and a railroad station in town!  The coming of  a railroad can do wonders for a town, saw it a couple of times.  There are great times ahead.”

“Well, Gentlemen.  Any volunteers to help me take the outlaws into town.?” Roy asked.   “And of course to go to Dales to get the two delinquent.”

The Lone Ranger, still standing beside the map volunteered.

“Tonto and I will come with you.”

Gene added.

“Count me in Roy.  I’ll get a few of  my boys too.”

Monte, and Bill Boyd volunteered too.

Roy stood up.

“You know men.   I don’t think Kievers Creek has anything to worry about anymore.  The Riders of Justice have made their first and final stand!”  he said proudly.  Pride showed in  each mans face.  They had been part of something big, something special.

Tonto and Pat Brady sat in the kitchen, finishing the last of the coffee and cake Dale and the ladies had made.

“Tonto.  Them’s some good fixings Dale made. “  Pat said rubbing his stomach.

“Better than the Lone Rangers sponge cake.  Threw that in lake, it sunk”  Tonto said with a smile on his face.   “Let’s take Gabby’s coffee to him.  It’s our watch too.”

Tonto got up to leave, grabbing Gabby’s hot steaming coffee as he turned.   Walking outside, he glanced towards the outlaw tree.  Gabby was nowhere to be found.

“Help!”  shouted Gabby.

The riders of justice hurried outside.  Tonto and Pat Brady were leaving the kitchen after  warming up.  As Roy reached the injured Gabby,  the sound of an escaping horseman sounded in the distance.

Gabby whispered.

“That good fer nothing outlaw slugged me.  I was telling the boys about the time John and I saved an entire wagon train.   They went inside to get me a coffee because of my terrible thirst.   And before I knew it,  Bill Stockton put his arm around my neck and hit me with my own gun.  Of course I fought as well as I could.  Must’ve hit him at least…”

“Once”  Roy offered.

Gabby scowled.

“Mebbe twice”  Gabby continued.  “Dirty pole cat.  Owww” he said touching the bump on his head.  “He’s been gone five, maybe ten minutes.  We’ll  never catch him.”

Roy  frowned.

“Are you okay Gabby?”  he asked.

“I’m okay young feller. “ Gabby replied.   “Where’s my coffee Monte?  Do you think a little bump is gonna stop me from finishing my story?   Where was I anyway?”

Miles away.  ‘Bill Stockton’ stood in the moonlight.  A mask, held between his fingers slipped to the ground.

“Goodbye ’Bill’” he said, a menacing tone in his voice.

Mounting his fresh horse taken from the box canyon, he took a last look back.  The moon glinted off his silver tipped boots.  Addressing an invisible audience he yelled.

“You’ve won the battle Ranger, but not the war!!”

He turned and spurred his horse onwards and was soon lost in the dust and the darkness.

Tim Lasiuta is a Red Deer writer, entrepreneur and communicator. He has interests in history and the future for our country.

Follow Author

Addictions

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

Published on

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.

Continue Reading

Community

$1,000,000 boost from province for upgrades at Red Deer’s Centre for Social Impact

Published on

BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS OF RED DEER RECEIVES $1,000,000 CFEP GRANT IN SUPPORT OF THE CENTRE FOR SOCIAL IMPACT

Youth HQ is proud to announce that Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Red Deer and District has been awarded $1,000,000 through the government of Alberta Community Facility Enhancement Program (CFEP) for the purpose of facility upgrades to the Centre for Social Impact.

The Centre for Social Impact (CSI) is an inspiring place where charities and non-profits can
collaborate; a place centrally located where families can readily access a variety of supports and
services; and a place where organizations can share resources and minimize operating costs.
“We are grateful for the support from CFEP, which enables us to address facility enhancements
and upgrades in support of the charities and non-profits that share this place where community
connects.” States Rob Lewis, Executive Director, YouthHQ.

Board Room at the Centre for Social Impact. Priority upgrades are the roof of the building and the HVAC systems

“Investments into non-profits in our communities, like Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Red Deer
not only support new activities and programming but uplift youth and help build stronger
communities. Alberta’s government is proud to provide this million dollar grant to Red Deer Big
Brothers and Big Sisters, as they provide essential supports and services for the youth of Red
Deer and surrounding area.”

Tanya Fir, Minister of Arts, Culture and Status of Women

“The CFEP grant awarded to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Red Deer and District is very
exciting news for Red Deer and surrounding communities. This substantial investment will
directly benefit our community by supporting essential youth programs, providing lasting
benefits for our youth in the years to come. I was happy to write a letter of support, as I am
continually inspired by the work Youth HQ does in our community. This grant will undoubtedly
enhance their ability to make a positive impact.”

MLA for Red Deer-North and Minister of Health, Adriana LaGrange

Conferencing area at the Centre for Social Impact. Priority upgrades are the roof of the building and the HVAC systems

For more information on the Centre for Social Impact please visit www.youthhq.ca

About Big Brothers Big Sisters of Red Deer and District

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Red Deer and District enables life-changing mentoring relationships
to ignite the power of young people. Providing life changing mentoring experiences since 1976,
Big Brothers Big Sisters has been matching children and youth with adult role models who help
them achieve their biggest possible futures. We believe we are #BiggerTogether, and currently
work with over 220 young people to ignite their potential.

About Youth HQ

Youth HQ empowers youth by fostering a community of support. Our network seeks to instill
young people with confidence in their unique identities and abilities, providing them with skills
for life through knowledge, healthy relationships, and quality experiences while providing safe
environments to learn and grow. Youth HQ coordinates programming for Big Brothers Big
Sisters of Red Deer & District and Boys & Girls Club of Red Deer & District, offering numerous
programs and services that support children, youth and families.

Continue Reading

Trending

X