Although she’s never met him, Mary knows Chris Ouellet well.
The 37-year-old First Nations woman used to drive her ex to Ouellet’s 810 Wheeler home to buy cocaine.
“My ex used to live by Chris’ words,” said Mary (not her real name).
“He’d say, ‘Well, cocaine saved Chris’ life, so it could do the same for me.’
“And I’m sitting there looking at my ex with his open sores and his face sunken in and I just thought — what?
“How the hell did I end up here with him.”
When they first met, Mary thought she’d found the man of her dreams.
“He had everything, looks, charm, beautiful eyes full of life and love,” she said.
But a few years later, she left town for work and the couple slowly drifted apart.
A decade passed before Mary moved back.
“We continued where we’d left off,” she said.
“I noticed he had changed some but still had the same qualities I liked about him.”
It was only after they started living together she learned he was shooting cocaine.
It was the beginning of a four-year nightmare.
“You always hear about the other side of drugs — who’s been arrested and we see their picture in the paper,” she said.
“But there’s never the human side put on it.
“No one ever decides, ‘Well, I’m going to be a drug addict today,’ and starts on a career of that.
“It just happens over time and you don’t realize it.”
As his addiction progressed, things started to disappear from Mary’s house, heirlooms, shoes and jewelry from her grandmother.
He even sold the washing machine.
“He’d trade the stuff for drugs at the Wheeler house,” she said.
Friends and family started asking Mary why she didn’t kick him out.
But it’s not that easy, she said.
“I still loved him and hoped he would change.
“He said things I wanted to hear because he saw the weakness in me.
“And I was lonely enough to believe him.”
Drug dealers began showing up at Mary’s house.
“It started to feel like it wasn’t my house anymore,” she said.
Paranoid, her ex always had the blinds closed.
If someone knocked at the door, he’d put a hand over Mary’s mouth and throw her on the floor.
“Who is that?” he’d say.
“Who did you invite to come here?
“And sometimes there wasn’t anybody there, it was just in his head, he’d hear voices,” said Mary.
There were needles and porn magazines strewn around. And he stopped paying the rent.
“He’d take my money and disappear for days,” she said.
Mary had her tires slashed. It was a warning — her ex had drug debts.
“There are things during the day that need to be done,” said Mary.
“Your life needs to carry on, yet this addiction needs to be fed and it doesn’t stop.
“It doesn’t know the clock — it crosses all boundaries and they just don’t care.”
Mary talked to her ex until she was “blue in the face” about what cocaine was doing to their life.
But it didn’t make a difference.
“I never felt I could tell anyone the whole truth about what he was doing, because I didn’t want to tell myself the truth either,” she said.
Her ex started stealing Mary’s car to do drug runs.
One memorable evening, the RCMP busted in and threw Mary up against the wall.
“I was under arrest because the vehicle was registered in my name,” she said.
“And the RCMP actually asked me, ‘Why do you let him out? Why do you let him steal?’”
Desperate to stop her ex, Mary started calling the police when he left the house to deal.
“I told them exactly where he was going to be and I remember one cop saying, ‘Right now?’
“And I thought, well, if you want to go catch them …
“I always see in the paper — the RCMP needs your assistance, it just can’t take down dealers on its own.
“So I risked my neck and they never went and did a thing — I don’t understand.”
When asked about the RCMP’s approach to the crack-cocaine problem in the territory, Cpl. Blake Wawryk suggested reading its Crime Reduction Strategy.
“It’s all in there,” he said on Wednesday.
And what would the RCMP do if they received a call about a drug deal going down?
“What do you think we’d do?” said Wawryk.
After mentioning what happened when Mary called the RCMP, Wawryk clammed up.
“Are you in contact with the woman?” he said.
“Have her call me.”
The low point for Mary was when her mother and two young nieces witnessed her being hassled by the police.
“I wasn’t surprised when I saw Chris admit he’s done drugs with police and lawyers,” added Mary.
“People are people no matter what their job is.”
Ouellet is so proud of being a dealer, added Mary.
“I want to let him know how he affected me. But I don’t blame Chris for the things my ex did.
“I just want people to know how this circle of everything is intertwined in the community.”
By the end of the relationship, Mary was sleeping with the grocery money under her pillow.
Over the four years, she estimates she lost at least $10,000 from the thefts, rent, food and heating bills.
“You should feel how cold they get,” she said.
“He was constantly turning up the heat.”
Her ex would go for days without eating.
“It got so bad he’d puke on water,” she said.
“And he didn’t care where he puked either — it was horrible.”
In a moment of clarity, Mary suddenly saw her ex for what he was.
“I looked at him and all I saw was this shell of a human being.
“He’d lost his beauty, weighed about 90 pounds; his teeth had fallen out and the track marks on his arms and legs were so infected they were oozing pus.
“It’s like mourning the death of someone who’s still alive.”
Mary was lying on the couch one night when her ex came home and asked for $20.
She didn’t have it.
He pulled a knife on her.
“And I thought, ‘just do it,’” said Mary.
“I was just so tired — I felt nothing and thought nothing.
“I just wanted it to be over.”
He threw the knife, but missed.
At work a few days later, Mary received a fax from Victim Services listing self-healing workshops.
Mary took the leap and went.
That was one-and-half years ago.
Mary still sees her ex around.
And she still carries a picture of him from back when he was healthy.
“You can’t even recognize him from the old pictures,” she said.
“But it reminds me of the human being he is.
“And it’s good for people to remember this, because if they want to help an addict they have to hang onto those memories.”