Pubdate: Wed, 22 Dec 2004
Source: Duncan News Leader (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 Duncan News Leader
Author: Aaron Bichard, staff reporter


For most people who die with a needle in their arm slumped on a floor
littered with condoms and crack pipes, a journey into their past can
pinpoint where things went wrong.

For Breanna Zorisky, the 18-year-old Duncan woman whose life ended
last month in similar circumstances, that journey would have many stops.

When Breanna was born in 1986, it wasn't without complications.

Her umbilical cord had twisted around her neck during some point in
the pregnancy, causing her to lose much-needed oxygen for her brain

It didn't kill her, but it left her with symptoms akin to mild fetal
alcohol syndrome - it slowed her comprehension and learning skills and
left her easily frustrated and quick to lash out against society's

Basically, Breanna was an easy target.

According to her mother, Julie Deschene, things kept getting worse for
her child.

Allegations of sexual abuse at the hands of a male babysitter when she
was a toddler, a broken home and learning difficulties helped her
become an easy target for older men who preyed on young girls.

At 13, she was introduced to drugs, introduced to the sex trade and
introduced to addiction.

Breanna battled her addictions - cocaine, heroine, methadone - as she
dealt with life's tragedies.

Her dad committed suicide in 2000; her boyfriend took his life two
years later.

"She needed something to soothe the beast," Deschene said. "She was
always looking for someone to love her."

Except for a short stint at an aunt's house in McBride, and a brief
stay in a detox centre in Prince George, Breanna's life took place on
Duncan streets, in Duncan houses, with local people.

She was part of Providence Farm's program. She did her last year of
education - Grade 10 - at Cowichan Valley Alternate School.

"She grew up full of life and ready to challenge anything," Deschene
said. "I called her Bree, Breezy, Queeny. She'd seen too much. She'd
done too much."

Breanna was found dead at Luxor Manor on Government Street on Nov. 14.
While police wait for a toxicology report to determine what killed
her, her mom is pretty sure she knows.

"It was methadone. It was her last party before she quit," Deschene
said. "It was her 'one last time.'"

While Breanna's story is news, her situation is apparently not

According to Michelle Ricard, the mother of a close friend of Zorisky,
a door exists in Duncan that young girls can - and do - walk through,
leaving them addicted and in trouble.

It can start at a local drug house.

"There's a foster home for girls next door to the drug house. Talk
about putting them on the dragon's doorstep," she said. "These girls
get drawn in, offered drugs and pretty soon they're giving blowjobs
for base hoots."

Once hooked, 14-, 15- and 16-year-old girls are easy prey for an older
heroin junkie who has them perform deviant acts for drugs.

"Doesn't take many sex-shows until a 16-year-old's psyche is smashed,"
Ricard said. "Then they're sent up to this guy with a porn studio in
his basement. He shoots videos and filters them into the sex trade ...
ultimately, they wind up on East Hastings.

She can't say how many girls have followed this path. But she claims
to have first-hand knowledge of at least one and has heard of others.

"The girls move through the crack pipe until they are completely

North Cowichan/ Duncan RCMP is no stranger to reports of prostitution
in the Valley. But if there is a local pipeline pumping young girls
into the sex trade, they are unaware of its existence.

"All of this is news," Const. Jennifer Prunty said. "We do have
numerous investigations going on, which I can't comment on, but this
is news.

"We have had reports of prostitution but not anything

The police need to gather a quantity of evidence before they can enter
a suspected drug house, which Prunty said differs for every case.
"It's basically we need whatever it takes to get a warrant," she said.

Ricard wonders how long it will take before someone - be it police or
government - cleans up the problem.

"Why is it just pass the buck with these girls?" she asked. "The
Cowichan Valley is a beautiful place to live. The only scar on the
landscape is our drug problem."

* Currently, in the Cowichan Valley, there aren't many choices for
youths with addictions.

Cowichan Youth Services leader Julie Bradley said she sees youth all
the time who have nowhere to turn to get help.

"Ask me anything to do with getting help for addictions and I'll be
laughing," Bradley said. "There's nothing around here for youth. If a
youth wants help, we have to ship them out of here."

First off, drug and alcohol treatment programs only take people who
say they are clean, so a person can't be using if they are going to
get help, she said.

"So you have to find a kid who will say they are clean, then we have
to send them away," she said.

Prince George and Maple Ridge both have detox centres but it's a
matter of getting the youths there.

The problem with B.C., Bradley said, is a lack of a centralized agency
to disperse funds for addiction help.

"Every thing is funded on a year-by-year basis," she said. "At the end
of the year the program has to apply for funding again. So you never
know if it's going to be there or gone. It's always changing."

As far as what the Ministry of Children and Family Development can do
to help out, social worker Barb Imlach said the issue is dependent on
the youth's desire to be helped.

"Unless court ordered or done through mental health, there's nowhere
that can force them into rehabilitation," she said. "It can be
frustrating work.

"It's an old problem. They've got to want to help themselves to be
able to be helped."

Imlach said in the Valley there is a program called Community Health
Connections, run through the Vancouver Island Health Authority, which
offers one-on-one drug and alcohol counseling.

"There are a few services but not many on the Island,' she said. "They
are hard to get into and the space is very limited."

Bradley points to Alberta as a good example of how one agency is
responsible for dispersing funds and setting up programs.

The Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission provides proactive
programs such as counseling, rehab, and prevention for people with

"I don't think it's even the fault of the system here," she said.
"It's that we aren't ready to address the problem with our system. "We
don't have a safety net for these kids."

* For Deschene, while she mourns the loss of her daughter, she wants
to ensure her death wasn't in vain.

"For kids, they've got to look out for each other," Deschene said.
"It's easy for kids to get caught up in the drug lifestyle.

"Kids need to think before they jump."
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