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Sebastian 20

Laughter, Compassion, Loyalty

 

As a little kid, Sebastian was independent and adventurous. For his first 8 years, Sebastian grew

up in Costa Rica. Spanish was his first language. He spent happy days outdoors, making games

in the woods and playing with friends. They spent many happy hours cruising the coffee trails

on their bikes, imagining themselves to be all manner of adventurous heroes. He loved his great

aunt’s empanadas and his grandma’s rice and beans. Lego kept him busy inventing new

machines and vehicles through the rainy season and Harry Potter books were his bedtime story

for many, many years.

Sebastian deeply loved his family there and in Canada, and has always had close connections

with both. He is so profoundly missed. Once in Canada he discovered snowboarding and loved it. Sailing, fishing and crabbing also became favourite ways for him to spend his time. He and his dad were supposed to go on  a big trip 4 days after Sebastian died.

Seb played soccer, hockey, and rugby. He enjoyed being part of a team and sharing the experience of competition. Growing up in Costa Rica, he of course played soccer, but always informally, a “mejenga” There were no uniforms, referees or firm rules and the field was often a patch of grass or a dirt road. So when Sebastian came to Vancouver and enrolled in a local soccer league, his first game with actual uniforms, a referee, and spectators (parents), it was, to him like playing for Barcelona. He was glowing.  After spending a determined, and humbling, year in skating classes called Dazzing Dogs and Curious Cats, Seb caught up to his peers and joined a hockey team. You could see the pride in his face on his first skate in full equipment. He just cruised the ice, savouring the moment.

                   

His dog Rio was his constant companion. Rio is a rescue dog that Seb’s sister found for him. Matthew, Sebastian’s dad said “Rio was huge- Sebastian loved Rio like nobodies business. They went everywhere together.”  Sebastian’s friends were a big part of his life. At some point in their mid-teens, Sebastian and his friends began experimenting with drugs in their recreational time. Like most people , Sebastian never considered for a moment that he would become addicted. To him, he was

having just having fun and experimenting like the other guys in his group were doing. He and his friends had started experimenting with oxy and then heroin. They also sought out fentanyl patches to scrape the fentanyl off. At that time it was easy to find the patches and they were cheap.  Somewhere along the line though, addiction just took Sebastian and never let go. Sebastian hid his use of drugs for a long time. He told his folks about his drug use in 2013. He had tried to

understand his addiction and had written in his journals where he called himself an “addict.”

 

His dad Matthew said, “100%. Stigma killed Sebastian." He relapsed after 2 years and hid his relapse and drug use due to the stigma of being a drug user and the shame over relapsing.  With a reduction in stigma and shame, and with a medical and scientific approach to drug use, Sebastian might have been more inclined to talk about his use and look for support. When he began to use drugs again, Sebastian thought he was letting other people in his life down.  Having access to safe supply would have made a difference to Sebastian. He and his friends bought most of the drugs they used from dealers. Those selling drugs may swear to their clients that the drugs they sell are safe. In reality, by the time the drugs get to the street, they have passed through many hands. Along the drug chain, other drugs or fillers like caffein, vitamin C, laxatives, and even plaster to extend amounts and increase profits may be used. Fentanyl and even stronger, analogues like carfentanil made illicitly can be of unknown strength and unevenly mixed.

Unfortunately Sebastian and his friends were using drugs in a time where experimenting with drugs could be deadly. Sebastian lost some friends due to drug use. As dad Matthew said,  “There was a war going on and they were smack in the middle of it-drugs that kill you.”

 

Sebastian is missed by many. The stalwart and enduring support of friends is a testament to

Sebastian’s character and how much he is loved and missed.

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