Skip to content

Drug paraphernalia found at Nanaimo school grounds where fentanyl had turned up

Days after a pouch containing the powerful opioid fentanyl was found on the grounds of a Nanaimo elementary school, parent volunteers doing a safety check located other concerning items, including a needle and traces of more drugs.
web1_school-drug-items
Items related to illicit drugs were found on the grounds of École Quarterway Elementary School in Nanaimo. VIA CHEK NEWS

Days after a pouch containing the powerful opioid fentanyl was found on the grounds of a Nanaimo elementary school, parent volunteers doing a safety check located other concerning items, including a needle and traces of more drugs.

The pouch was found by an École Quarterway Elementary student who did not know what it contained and took it home.

A parent called Nanaimo RCMP, and the substance inside was tested and turned out to be fentanyl.

“On advice of our school’s safety committee, we have suspended ground-cleaning activities until further notice,” principal Arlette Begoum-Kaké said in a letter to school families.

Jessica Krog-Irving, who chairs the Nanaimo-Ladysmith District Parent Advisory Council and has a son in Grade 6 at Quarterway, said that the incidents do not come as a shock to her.

“Unfortunately, it’s not really surprising,” she said. “Nanaimo has really struggled a lot in the last few years with a lot of visible unhoused and visible, open drug use.”

Krog-Irving said that people understandably tend to panic when drugs are found in areas frequented by children.

“Most of the schools do have some sort of designated staff person whose job it is to do a walk-through of the school grounds,” she said. “Unfortunately this kind of thing happens. It highlights how bad it’s gotten in town.”

Begoum-Kaké said arrangements for added morning sweeps of the grounds and evening patrols had been made in the wake of the fentanyl being found.

“The school district is also working on installing new signage around our school property to remind the public that this is private property,” she said. “We are also discussing the need for district personnel to trim bushes, as items can easily be hidden and difficult to remove in these areas.”

Security cameras will be installed, as well, Begoum-Kaké said.

“We continue to work closely with our Nanaimo RCMP school-liaison officer, who will continue to support our school in any capacity.”

The school has 420 students from kindergarten to Grade 7, and Begoum-Kaké said that their safety is “of utmost importance.”

She said that the students are regularly reminded not to handle anything that they suspect could be dangerous.

“We encourage our students to alert an adult immediately.”

School district spokesman Dale Burgos has said the district is very concerned and is thankful that no one has been harmed.

Both he and Nanaimo RCMP Reserve Const. Gary O’Brien also stressed that students should never pick up a questionable item.

If it turns out to be drugs, it could be lethal, O’Brien said.

He said if police are called they can dispose of the item safely.

jbell@timescolonist.com

>>> To comment on this article, write a letter to the editor: letters@timescolonist.com