This is the third year a Winnipeg woman is handing out backpacks full of goods to people experiencing homelessness to honour her daughter's legacy.
Shelly Taillieu lost her daughter Destiny to an accidental drug overdose on November 4, 2018.
"She suffered from mental illness and addictions," says Taillieu. "When she passed away, we wanted to try and figure a way to get through the two worst days of the year, which would be the day she died and her birthday, which is November 10."
Taillieu along with her sister, best friend Nancy, and Sean, Destiny's boyfriend, decided to do something on the anniversary the following year.
"Yes, she and Sean struggled, but Destiny's life wasn't all about addiction. She graduated high school when she was 16 and she had a degree in criminology by the time she was 20 from the U of M. She had a lot of potential."
Taillieu explains that her daughter passed away from a Fentanyl overdose while she was waiting for a rehab bed. The wait for a bed at the time was 206 days.
Backpacks from Heaven
With the help of the community's donations, Taillieu collected items to pack into backpacks that could later be handed out to people in need.
Inside each backpack includes a Bible, toiletries, winter wear including mitts, toque, and wool socks, along with some food items.
"The first year we did it, we couldn't believe how many people needed them. We were out of bags in five minutes."
Destiny's boyfriend Sean participated in the first Backpacks from Heaven with Taillieu and before the second anniversary, he passed away. At that point, Sean's mother and father joined Taillieu in collecting items and handing out backpacks in November.
Now the event is called Destiny and Sean's Backpacks from Heaven.
"Last year we gave away 60 bags. We want to focus on homeless people while raising awareness for overdoses and mental illness."
Taillieu is a part of Overdose Awareness Manitoba and Moms Stop the Harm.
Cathartic Giving Back
"If this one gesture of kindness can actually raise awareness for the homeless and mental health, which leads to addiction, which often leads to homelessness, then I'm happy."
Taillieu shares that giving back helps her through the healing process of grief.
"Otherwise I would be sitting at home on her birthday, all day, crying in her room. So I come out and spend time, talk to the people here. I think someone listening to them sometimes is all they want."
People who want to donate supplies can connect with Taillieu throughout the year by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.