Three young boys are on the Christmas list of a Prince George woman this year after their mother died due to toxic drug poisoning at 38 years old.
Christine Habsburg often chooses someone in need to support over the holiday season, purchasing gifts and a hamper for an elder each year. She also has hosted online fundraisers for those in dire situations, and this year she has put out a call to support someone she knew from when she lived in Williams Lake.
Habsburg met Lori George when Habsburg was putting an event on at Esk’et (Alkali).
“Her personality and her energy was just beautiful,” Habsburg said of George at the time.
The two got to know one another and were friends on Facebook, and George’s daughter Candice was in a relationship with a relative of Habsburg’s previous partner, creating a continuing connection.
So Habsburg already knew George was facing the challenge of raising her daughter Candice’s three young sons, as Candice struggled with addiction problems.
When she heard Candice passed away on Nov. 8 from using toxic drugs, followed only a few days later by Candice’s partner, the father of her youngest son, Habsburg knew George would be facing an even tougher challenge going into the holidays.
“My heart hurt for her,” said Habsburg, of the situation.
Habsburg also said she already had a bit of a soft spot for the three young boys, who she had met when she still lived in Williams Lake.
“They’re just adorable and they’re very, very sweet,” she said.
So she put out a call on social media to try and raise awareness for people to give to help support George and her three grandsons during the holidays.
But not without consulting with George, who agreed to the support, as she was already facing large bills for her daughter’s funeral, and was in the midst of moving back out to Esk’et (Alkali) from Williams Lake.
“It’s been pretty crazy,” said George, of the aftermath of losing both her daughter and now her daughter’s partner and father of her youngest grandson. She has to move their things out of their room where they were living.
George said her daughter had unresolved trauma, and while she lived a simple life out at Alkali in her youth, and attended cultural ceremonies with her grandmother, she was also subject to abuse and the trauma of her father’s death when she was just eight months and growing up without a father who she said was struck and killed by a drunk driver.
She said Candice eventually descended into a fairly chaotic life, but George tried to stay in touch with her daughter as much as she could, despite her daughter’s insistence of keeping her vulnerable sons away from her lifestyle.
George said the preliminary results from the coroner revealed her daughter had crystal methamphetamine, fentanyl and cocaine in her system when she died.
Now, George will continue to raise Candice’s three young sons, ages 10, eight and five, who have been with George for most of their lives.
“They’re all so beautiful and they’ve taught me a lot about life,” said George of her grandsons. She herself is a residential school survivor, and had her own struggles with addiction when she was younger.
“I crawled out of my own darkness,” said George, noting she lived alcohol and drug free for 14 years, and attributing the support of Ken and Edna Johnson with helping get her back on her feet. Reconnecting with her culture provided her with direction and she became a language teacher, but then sustained an injury and was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Now she focusses on her grandsons and lives on disability.
She is happy to have been able to move them back out to Esk’et, where she feels more at home and the boys can enjoy a closer connection to community and their culture.
“It feels so much better,” said George, of the move. The loss of her daughter was tough, but she said she takes comfort from knowing Candice is no longer struggling.
When she learned of Habsburg’s plan to put a call out for George and her grandsons, George helped the boys make wish lists , and she herself added a few things to the list as well. She would like to have a some Christmas lights and decorations and someone has already donated a tree and Christmas dinner, though they are still hoping for a ham or turkey as well, and George is hoping to be able to pay some bills and replace the clothes of hers which were accidentally thrown away during the move, because they were in garbage bags.