Luke Dufour has been on top of the world and he has also face planted, meeting rock bottom. The world champion, five times on Team Canada, three-time silver medal, kick-boxing fighter has travelled the globe to places like Ireland, Portugal, and all over North America.
Having hung up his gloves, it is now Prince Rupert where he has settled and calls home after a long journey from the depths of addiction to the highs of recovery.
The support worker at 333 Trinity House, a men’s addiction and recovery home in Prince Rupert, is where Luke spends a lot of time assisting new clients with their own journeys to recovery. He doesn’t like to talk about his days as a world champion because they were so full of pressure and stress he said, but, he doesn’t regret them because they were amazing times. He grew up in the competition sport and started at around six-years-old. Instead, of talking about his sporting days, he likes to focus on his work with the clients at 333, and his job in the kitchen at the Crest Hotel.
“I became involved in Trinity House first as a client … I’ve had an addiction and substance abuse disorder for 10 years,” Luke said.
Originally from Ontario, Luke spent years moving around from place to place with his addiction leading him to look for places he had never been before, because usually the bridges leading backwards had been burned, he said.
“I’ve gone all across Canada … There was always this idea that happiness is somewhere else, like if I have the right job, or have the right girl, or the right friends, if I’m in a nicer place, then I will be O.K. and I won’t have this problem anymore. But, it never worked and every time it got worse,” Luke said.
Coming to Rupert was his last hope. It was the end of the line for him on so many different levels, he said.
“It’s almost poetic that I came here … All this stuff came together. It’s like you are running for so long, and using for so long that your mind starts to fail you, and your body starts to fail you. Then, there is no where else you can run anymore. You eventually have to face everything that’s been going on.”
Luke knows inside-out the every day battles of addiction and recovery, which make it easier for him as a support worker to relate to the process the Trinity House clients commit to. He has been a client twice in the 333 home.
The first time, he had just recently moved to Prince Rupert and was working in the kitchen at the Crest Hotel under Chef Wily Beaudry. Beaudry is also the director of 333 Trinity House, so he recognized the signs in Luke and told him of a spot in the nine-bed home.
“My first time didn’t go so well … I didn’t really understand what I was doing. I didn’t take recovery too seriously,” Luke said.
Even though he tried to give up drugs, he said he had a bad relapse which spiraled him to steal from his girlfriend and very nearly get fired from his job. On top of that his dad was fighting cancer.
“Everything kind of was just coming down on me. It was like I was at the end of the line here. Where else do I go? I made the choice to swallow my medicine cabinet,” Luke said.
His parents flew from Ontario, his girlfriend stood by him and Chef Willy was there to offer support with the doctors and processes.
Luke went back to Trinity House. This time with the seriousness he needed and willingness to work on the issues.
Trinity House works on an application basis to anyone who is seeking help to over-come addiction. Clients engage in their choice of two programs – a traditional 12 step program or a First Nations based program.
“I’m really grateful today that because I worked the program of recovery, I got to go home when it was time for (my dad) to pass. I got to be there with him in the end. I got to be there for my mom and for my family.”
“For once in my life I didn’t make something about me. It was like a return to being human again. It was really special because as addicts we are so selfish and so self seeking – we make everything about us. Usually, it doesn’t end well.”
Luke said working at Trinity House keeps him grounded and in touch with his own recovery as he helps others to find their way down their own paths to sobriety and recovery.
“It’s definitely hard. It can be stressful. It’s all about learning to cope with life,” Luke said. “Hopefully, if you work the steps and you have a supportive network around you, you can learn to manage.”
“I really, really, admire (the team) at Trinity House and a lot of others in this community who give the opportunity for a better life to people like me. I wanted to be part of that,” Luke said.
Luke helps out in the office, he assists with intakes, he encourages clients through their programs, helps with menu planning and is there to support the men through the scheduled tasks at the home during the 90 day recovery stay.
Each program participant is scheduled a weekly chore and they learn life-skills, like doing their own laundry and cooking meals while working on their recovery goals. Volunteer work in the community on Saturdays is part of the routine clients learn.
There are no cell phones permitted in the home and there are restrictions to leaving the premises by ones-self, with a buddy system in place. Internal communication between clients living in the home is encouraged to avoid the self isolation that addicts display, Luke said.
“We want the guys to make meaningful connections with people and themselves,” Luke said. “Working here is 100 per cent worthwhile. It’s not like a job to me. It’s like a life style to get to do this. The community needs it. It is my dream to continue with it.”
“Working at 333 Trinity House keeps me remembering why I started doing this. It’s so beautiful to see somebody change their life. Maybe people don’t believe in miracles, but I do because I see guys come so far and do things they would never have done before, talk about things they never would have talked about,” Luke said. “I get to see them grow and change and become the person they are meant to be.”
“There is recovery here at Trinity House. We live in a society that is is so focused on the individual and being strong enough to do things on your own. I think that’s a lie. I don’t think it’s the truth. I think we are all stronger together.”
K-J Millar | Journalist
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