After months of turmoil, our family challenge started on November 23, 2020 

Covid certainly didn’t make things easy. We discovered Portage by means of a videoconference that walked us through a virtual tour of the premises, the admission process was conducted outside, and we bid farewell to our daughter in the parking lot, hoping she would be all right. As Élodie sought to comfort us, she said ”Mom, I’ll be okay!”.  As soon as she left, we felt our hearts sink, while we tried to convince ourselves everything would work out fine. This is not an easy situation for a parent. You’re always asking yourself what you did wrong. Later that night, our daughter called us briefly to say ”I’m doing fine, I’m quarantining, I ate and the people here are nice.”

A support network for loved ones

We were informed there was a Family Support Group for parents whose children are at Portage. We joined the group for a first meeting the Tuesday following our daughter’s admission. It was one of the most emotionally-charged encounters of our lives. I had never seen my partner cry so much or show so much emotion. While sharing with other parents was challenging, it was also liberating. We felt like we were losing our child. It all seemed so unfair. We felt alone, powerless and judged by family and friends. Our eldest daughter was also going through a lot, and we knew we mustn’t forget her in all this.

The Family Support Group, led by a Portage counsellor, helped us vent our emotions, share with other parents and listen to what they were experiencing. The counsellor was very straightforward with us.

It wasn’t only our daughter who needed to get better. We all had our wounds, and things we needed to understand. We attended the group religiously every Tuesday. It was very important to us. Élodie knew we had joined the group and were supporting her through her journey. The staff and counsellors at Portage were always available for us; Élodie could be somewhat temperamental.

Parents who are just at the beginning of the process should remember their children may display selfish or heartless behaviour. They may call you only when they want something or because they want you to come get them. They’ll make you feel what they’re feeling inside. But you have to resist your feelings of pain and guilt for their own well-being.

The program

The counsellors were always there to provide support and effective communication. Despite all the challenges, the team took good care of our children. During isolation periods, they had to wear many different hats: cook, custodian, etc. That’s in addition to supervising the youth and responding to their needs. We are very grateful to the entire Portage team. Well done!

Nothing is left to chance at Portage: every progression is mapped out and analyzed. The further along our daughter advanced in the program, the more settled she became. By stage four, we could sense she finally felt confident in her surroundings. She talked about Portage as if it were her family. Each role in the Portage community has been well thought-out.

The parent-youth workshops were important. The family’s involvement, including brothers and sisters, makes a huge difference. Our whole family is communicating better now. Thank you.

Élodie’s journey at Portage lasted seven months, and so the bell rang out seven times as she left the centre, wearing her favourite red dress.

Our involvement and our daughter’s involvement throughout the entire program were key to her success.  Portage gave our daughter tools that she can use. Things are better now, but there’s still work to be done. The important thing is for our daughter to be sober, to have healthy ambitions and objectives for her future. The healing process is the work of a lifetime and sometimes you have to go back to the source to remind yourself that the tools you were once given are still there.

We want to thank the entire Portage team for saving our daughter. Thank you Portage for listening and for being a part of Élodie’s life.


Julie, Mother of Graduate, Youth program, Lac Écho, 2021

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