Unsilencing Stories

Episode 3: Rhonda Watt speaks with Tamerel Richard in Lloydminster, Alta about her brother Tyrone Hickey

January 12, 2023
Unsilencing Stories
Episode 3: Rhonda Watt speaks with Tamerel Richard in Lloydminster, Alta about her brother Tyrone Hickey
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, you’ll hear Rhonda Watt  speaking with Tamerel Richard in Lloydminster, Alta. about her brother Tyrone Hickey.

Jenna Keeble 00:00

Unsilencing Stories is a podcast that reflects the voices of people in small towns and communities in Canada, who have lost loved ones to the toxic drug supply crisis. Since 2016. More than 30,000 people have died from fatal overdoses in Canada. And that number continues to climb. The risk in smaller towns and communities is much higher than urban areas because of a lack of harm reduction services, and stigma against substance use and people who use drugs. This podcast is part of a community based participatory research project facilitated by Aaron Goodman, Ph.D., a faculty member at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey, B.C., along with students, Jenna Keeble, and Ashley Pocrnich. 

The aim was to assist collaborators in publicly memorializing their loved ones and expressing grief as well as challenging silences imposed by dominant media organizations and stigma from society against substance use and people who use drugs. We hope these nuanced stories make it clear why the government needs to be doing more to prevent further deaths. In this episode, you'll hear Rhonda Watt interviewing Tamerel Richard and Lloydminster, Alberta, about her brother Tyrone Hickey, who experienced a fatal opioid overdose at age 29 in 2018.


Tamerel 01:12

Tamerel, my last name is Richard. 


Rhonda 01:16

And where do you live? 


Tamerel 01:18

I live in Lloydminster, on the Alberta side of the border.


Rhonda 01:22

And is there a person that you would like to speak about that died from an overdose?


Tamerel 01:28

Yes, my brother. His name was Tyrone Hickey.


Rhonda 01:33

Unique name, you all have interesting names, actually.


Tamerel 01:39

We all we all have T names. Yeah, I'm Tamerel, my brother was Tyrone, and my sister is Taryn.


Rhonda 01:47

Oh, neat. What is your most vivid memory of him?


Tamerel 01:54

I have so many memories of him. My favorite one ever though, we were kids and we were camping in B.C., and we were playing at the park and our parents were at the campsite, like not very far from where the park was at the campground. And all of a sudden, we were on the swings. He was like, “Ow, my finger” and he looked at his finger and didn't see anything. Then he's like, “Ow, my leg” and so he pulled his short back to look down. He just had his swimming shorts on, and a wasp flew out. It had stung him, and he ripped his shorts off and he was screaming at the top of his lungs, “Get my dad! Get my dad! It stung me”. And I just thought it was hilarious, I couldn't even move. I was just standing there laughing at him, because it was so funny, like he was running naked, and it was hilarious.


Rhonda 02:55

Oh, wow. Wow, that's wild. What was your relationship like with him?


Tamerel 03:07

Him and I were two years apart. I'm two years older. We were super... when we were children, we weren't as close. He liked to beat me up and my dad was always like, “Oh, she'll be bigger than you someday” and “You'll get it back” but we always fought like siblings, fight, I guess. But as we got older, we were super close. I moved out and moved to Lloyd right after he graduated, he moved to Lloyd and kind of lived with some friends and then decided he wanted to live with me. So, him and I lived together in that apartment for years and then when my husband and I ended up buying this house, he moved with us and lived in our basement for another few years. Like we were super, super close.


Rhonda 04:04

How would you describe his personality?


Tamerel 04:11

He was very, he liked to be like, he was like tough or whatever. But inside he was like the softest, like sensitive he'd cry about everything. And he was yeah,  he didn't like to show people that but like Timmy, he was just a big soft teddy bear.


Rhonda 04:34

What were his hopes and dreams for the future?


Tamerel 04:39

So, when he passed away just before he passed away, he was getting his life together. He was sober for a while, probably a year and a bit. He had registered to go back to school, to start a new trade because originally, he was in like a pipe fitting trade. But he decided he didn't want to do that anymore. So, he was registered to start school in a month at the college in Vermillion to do electrical. He was trying to become an electrician. 


Rhonda 05:18

Oh, wow. 


Tamerel 5:19



Rhonda 05:21

Making some big changes. What has been the hardest thing about losing him?


Tamerel 05:29

I don't know, it's all hard. It really is. The hardest thing is just not having him here to tell things to and, you know, share my joy and feelings, share my sadness. I have a six-year-old, he'll be six in May. My son, he was almost two when Ty passed away. So, the hardest for me is watching him grow up without his uncle. Yeah, that's the worst, I think because my brother was big into sports. He was super athletic. He, yeah, hockey, sports, they were like his thing, and he told me the Christmas before he passed away, he's like, “Oh, don't worry, I'll be there I'll teach him how to skate” and so all the things he's missing with him is the hardest.


Rhonda 06:30

Are you comfortable? Or can you talk about his death? And how good he got?


Tamerel 06:36

Yes. So, he passed away in... it was January in a halfway house in Edmonton because he was in prison and had been released to the halfway house in October. He only had like a month left there then he was going to be able to come home. So, I wasn't up there, but the day before my mom and sister were with him. They went shopping and he bought groceries, and he got his haircut, and you know, did all the normal things. And then that night, after supper, he said to mom, “Okay, I think I just want to go back, I'm tired”. So, he went back to the halfway house. He said to Mom, “I'll see you tomorrow”. 

That weekend, he was alone at the halfway house. His roommates were gone on a weekend pass. So, the next day, my mom tried to call him early in the morning, like 10, didn't get an answer. She thought, well, that was weird. So, she tried again, still no answer. Around noon, Jen heard from him. So, she called the halfway house. And they were like, “Oh, we'll go check on him, we'll get him to call you”. It was like four o'clock that afternoon. She called me and she's like, “I still haven't heard from him. I don't know what happened to him”. And I'm like, “Oh, I'm sure he's fine”. I'm like, “Maybe he's out tomorrow or something”. Actually, I said, “Maybe he got in trouble and went back to jail”. I'm like, “It's really weird. I don't know why they haven't called”. And then I think it was like, an hour or two later, the police showed up at her house and she wasn't home. 

So, they told my stepdad and then my stepdad had to call her and tell her that he had passed away. Oh, and then there she had actually called the halfway house back at four and got a different person and they were like, “Oh, I just got here. I'm not sure what's going on”. So, nobody would tell her, like what had happened. And then the police notified her that he was gone. And then after that. She found out that when she called at like 10 or whatever they must have went to check on him. Found him. Found him gone on the couch. 

The coroner she talked to after she showed up at noon, she said so they knew like at noon. And I don't know why it took so long for them to tell her, to let her know but the coroner said by the time she got there at noon; he had probably been gone for four to six hours. And so, like I'm still, I don't know. It still makes me angry because that halfway house, they're supposed to check on the residents every hour. Clearly, somebody didn't check on him. She did find out later like he had drugs in his room. They had found drugs by him. The police weren't sure what they were, they thought possibly like crystal meth. 

The coroner said a kind of was like heroin. When they did the toxicology reports, and they came back that it was fentanyl mixed with some kind of veterinary tranquilizer. So, I don't know if he thought he was getting heroin or what he thought. But it was definitely fentanyl and it killed him. I guess the coroner did tell him that they tried they must have tried to use Naloxone on him because there was a kit there in the room by him, but he was already gone. By the time that they even found him. I do know there was one staff member that Ty had said, when she's on shift, she never checks them. So, I feel like he picked that night because he was alone. And he knew that lady was on. I don't think in my mind that he did it intentionally to kill himself. But I mean, once you've been sober for a while and you relapse. Yeah, you don't have the tolerance you’re used to.


Rhonda 11:05

I teach that a lot to these clients. You don't have to tolerate it anymore. I'm so sorry.


Tamerel 11:12

Well, thank you.


Rhonda 11:14

How do you think he would want to be remembered?


Tamerel 11:20

I think he would want to be remembered as the guy he was before addiction. That he would want to be remembered as, like, that guy was fun, happy, like had lots of friends, played hockey. He gave the best, biggest bear hugs, like the tightest hugs. All his friends are like he was the best hugger. He had a smile that would light up his whole face. Yeah, most people just they loved him when they saw him.


Rhonda 11:58

Thank you for sharing that. Beautiful.


Tamerel 12:02

You're welcome. Yeah, Ty's Smile was like the highlight. Everybody remembers his smile and his laugh because he had his deep voice and like the booming laugh it was.


Jenna Keeble 12:17

That brings us to the end of this episode of the Unsilencing Stories podcast. To listen to more interviews in the series, please go to www.unsilencingstories.com, and if you'd like to share your thoughts on the episode, message us at unsilencingstories@gmail.com. Thank you so much for listening and please share the project with other people you know.