Friends and family of Dan Sealey gathered Sunday afternoon in a Townley Street home to remember him during a private celebration of life.
The stepson of Saanich South MLA and Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham, died earlier this month of an accidental drug overdose at the age of 23.
Standing at the door of the house, Popham told the Saanich News Sunday’s gathering was closed to media. According to social media, the event was held in lieu of a formal service, at the request of Sealey, whose father Rob is Popham’s fiancé.
“Those who were lucky enough to know him know the funny, caring, smart, talented and special person he was but may not know about the struggles he faced over the past few years,” read the posting. “He was taken from us far too soon by accidental overdose this past weekend.”
Popham posted a message announcing Sealey’s untimely death on her own Facebook page Nov. 17, in which she echoed the family’s posting, noting that Sealey was pursuing a career as a physics teacher.
|Lana Popham, B.C. Minister of Agriculture and Saanich South MLA, said her stepson struggled over the last few years with mental health issues and addiction. (Facebook/Lana Popham)|
According to his Facebook page, Sealey had started school at Central Washington University in January 2016, studying physics and mathematics after leaving Seton Hall University in February 2015.
Since June, Sealey had also been working as a line cook at Yates Street Taphouse Bar and Grill; previously he was employed at Barb’s Fish and Chips in Victoria’s Inner Harbour.
A Facebook fundraising site started by Paige Sealey — believed to be one of Dan’s two sisters — describes him as “a brilliant, hilarious, happy kid who struggled with both mental illness and addiction later in life.”
“We lost him too soon at age 23 to an accidental overdose,” she wrote. “We hope to continue his legacy by helping others who struggle with similar issues.”
As of Sunday afternoon, the site had raised $7,782 (US), more than $5,000 above its goal of $2,000.
According to a study from Public Health Agency of Canada, almost 10 people died each day of an illicit drug overdose in Canada from January 2016 to March 2018.
In British Columbia, 128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018.
The province is on track to record the same or more overdose deaths as last year, which was the worst in Canadian history. In 2017, an average of 120 people died each month and in the first three-quarters of 2018, an average of 127 people died each month.
Vancouver continues to be the city hit hardest, with 297 deaths, followed by 162 deaths in Surrey and 74 in Victoria.
According to a new report from Statistics Canada, 12 per cent of the 2,362 confirmed illicit drug overdose deaths between 2011 and 2016 involve individuals aged 18 to 24.
The Saanich News reached out to Paige Sealey for comment as well as several of Dan Sealey’s friends but did not receive a reply.