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Abbotsford trustee supports national brain-injury strategy in son’s memory

Shirley Wilson’s son was injured in 2018 collision; died of toxic drug poisoning in 2021
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Shirley Wilson, with her son Jacob, is supporting a campaign for a national strategy on brain injury. Jacob suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2018 and died from toxic drug poisoning three years later. (Submitted photo)

Abbotsford resident and school trustee Shirley Wilson has joined a campaign that calls on the federal government to implement a national strategy for brain injury.

Wilson is part of the 125 Days to Say Yes campaign, which coincides with the 125 days the House of Commons will sit from January to December.

Wilson’s son, Jacob, suffered a traumatic brain injury after he was struck by a pickup truck in August 2018 at the age of 21 while he was walking along Marshall Road in Abbotsford.

He was resuscitated three times by medical teams that night.

Over the last years of his life, the devastating injuries he sustained led to isolation, psychosis, drug addiction and his death by an accidental fentanyl overdose on Nov. 11, 2021 at the age of 24.

Wilson, in partnership with the Abbotsford Police Department, shared her and Jacob’s story in a YouTube video in April 2023.

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She is now part of the grassroots movement calling on citizens to send letters to the federal minister of health and other members of Parliament.

Wilson said her son struggled to find the right care after his brain injury.

“Coordinated brain injury care and supports are desperately needed, and a national strategy is necessary,” she said.

Janelle Breese Biagioni, CEO of the CGB Centre for Traumatic Life Losses and community lead with the B.C. Consensus on Brain Injury, said the current state of brain-injury services and supports is “fragmented and chronically underfunded.”

“Even though provinces are meeting health-care criteria, there is no coordinated brain injury strategy,” she said.

A national strategy is already on the federal government’s radar. On June 2, 2022, MP Alistair MacGregor (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) introduced Bill C-277.

In part, the bill calls for a national strategy “to support and improve brain injury awareness, prevention and treatment as well as the rehabilitation and recovery of persons living with a brain injury.”

Michelle McDonald, chief executive officer of Brain Injury Canada, said brain injury is often the root cause of challenges such as mental health, addictions, unemployment and homelessness.

“A national strategy will help to improve awareness, prevention and treatment as well as the rehabilitation and recovery outcomes of individuals and families living with the effects of brain injury,” she said.

More information about the 125 Days to Say Yes campaign can be found at brainstreams.ca.

– with files from Jessica Peters

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