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Winnipeg mom continues late daughter’s giving spirit with backpack campaign

Global News logo Global News 2021-10-26 Sam Thompson
Pictured: Destiny Taillieu © Submitted Pictured: Destiny Taillieu

A Winnipeg mom is putting together backpacks of basic, essential supplies to hand out to people in need, in memory of her daughter, who died of an accidental fentanyl poisoning.

Shelley Taillieu told Global News her daughter, Destiny, died at 22 in November 2018, and the backpack project is a way to live out Destiny's charitable, helpful nature — even if she's no longer here to participate.

"This time is always a really hard time of the year, because on Nov. 4, she died, and Nov. 10 was her birthday," said Taillieu.

"Me, her boyfriend and her aunt Tammy decided to do something in memory of her that was like her — what she did in her life.

"She always gave, no matter her struggles. She had mental illness when she was a teenager, and she struggled with that... she struggled with addiction in her early adulthood and unfortunately, that took her life — but she was always willing to help others and give her last dollar to somebody on the street who needed it more than her."

Taillieu said Destiny's boyfriend, Sean, who helped spearhead the project, has also since died, so the backpack project is now known as Destiny and Sean's Backpacks From Heaven.

The backpacks are filled with basic items like reusable water bottles, non-perishable foods, toiletries, and warm winter clothing like mitts, hats and scarves, and are handed out annually to street-involved people.

Read more: Manitoba on pace to exceed drug-overdose deaths in 2021

"I think the important thing is to never give up," said Taillieu. "There's always hope.

"Always love these people. These people are good, good people who are struggling with a disorder that's hard to beat. There's so many homeless people out there now.

"All of these people usually have a story, and their story usually starts in their childhood with something that has happened, or some sort of mental illness in their family that has led to the addiction and homelessness."

Taillieu said Nov. 4, the anniversary of Destiny's death, would usually be a horrible day, but being able to show kindness to others in her daughter's name helps set aside some of her grief.

"What I'd really like people to do is be kind," she said.

"If you see someone homeless and they're sitting there, buy them a doughnut, buy them a coffee — just do something nice for someone else.

"It makes what would be a really horrible day a bit better, because you can see the smiles on the faces of these people — they're really happy to get anything."

Anyone interested in participating is asked to email Taillieu for more information.

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