JoAnne Tomusiak has had enough.
And she’s not going to take it anymore.
The 64-year-old Princeton woman has spent two years watching her grandson die. He drifted away from church, stopped attending school, lost his job, experimented with marijuana, became addicted to cocaine and methamphetamine, sought and rejected treatment, and attempted suicide.
Monday he was in hospital in Penticton, while Tomusiak scrambled to have him assigned to a residential mental health treatment facility.
Her grandson is 14 years old.
Following numerous meetings with educators, health care providers and RCMP Tomsuiak has reached out through social media to area families and scheduled a meeting at the Princeton courthouse Wednesday May 13th at 11 a.m. with Mayor Frank Armitage and police to discuss drugs and youth in the community.
She described the mayor as “interested and positive” after speaking with him on the phone. “I’m a bit nervous to tell you the truth. But I’ve had it. Something has got to be done. We need to get organized.”
Tomusiak expects considerable support at Wednesday’s meeting. “A lot of mothers said they would be there for sure for support,” she said.
“Everybody you talk to says the same thing: it’s been going on for years. This is the town I’m in. This is the town my family is in, and I want it cleaned up.”
Tomusiak said her grandson’s problems began shortly after her family moved here from Spruce Grove, Alberta two years ago. In that community he was a competitive soccer player and active in a church congregation but he quickly became bored in Princeton with the lack of recreational options.
He began using marijuana and skipping school and his problems worsened as he progressed to harder drugs.
“What they [drug dealers] are doing is giving it to the kids for free and then the kids want it.”
Tomusiak believes there are several initiatives town council could spearhead to improve chances for families like own, including re-establishing at Citizens on Patrol Committee, implementing a youth curfew, and creating a drop-in center in the town’s core especially for young people.
While acknowledging that RCMP are short staffed, she said Princeton needs an officer dedicated to drug enforcement “to harass” drug dealers into leaving town.
Tomusiak says she has spoken to young people in Princeton who couch surf in homes where drugs are sold, and even some children whose parents sell and use drugs.
“When you go to the hospital and talk to the doctors you just shake your head. They say you have no idea how bad the problem is and to me it’s so sad because we are losing the youth of this town.”
Tomusiak is raising three other grandchildren alone since her husband died last year. “It is so hard, living with a child like this. That’s why I reached out for help and to support other parents because I know other parents are going through it and nobody comes forward.”