On July 1, Mission’s Aimee Robbins was about to leave her home to search for her 16-year-old son.
It was then police showed up to tell her that he was gone – Mason Martin had died of toxic drug poisoning.
“He was my only son. He was the one that made me a mom. I feel lost without him but I don’t have a choice,” Robbins said. “I’m angry. I have to continue for my daughters.”
Robbins says the past two months have been difficult and there are some days when she doesn’t know how to manage.
“I hate to say it but if I didn’t have my daughters, I probably would have killed myself to be with him. Because he didn’t deserve it,” she said.
Robbins says Martin was a loving and caring kid. He loved his family and his pets, and he wanted to be a great role model for his sisters.
“He was incredibly intelligent beyond his years. I truly believe he was born into a system that was a failure and he was too smart for it,” she said.
According to Robbins, systematic failures with voluntary care, hospitals, the Ministry of Children and Family Development, probation and police caused Martin’s issues to fall through the cracks.
“To watch him go down the rabbit hole and everybody just dismiss it as drug use and not realizing it was mental illness – I watched my son die before my eyes,” she said.
“And I’m a strong friggin’ advocate. It was doors closing after doors closing after doors closing and it was frustrating as a mom. I can’t even imagine how frustrating it was as a child.”’
Martin was diagnosed with autism when he was 11 years old. Robbins says her son faced a lot of discrimination and never felt accepted by society.
“It got to the point where he started to self-medicate with different various drugs, household stuff and his behaviours escalated,” she said.
His substance use began with alcohol and other household amenities like cough syrup.
Martin was prescribed ADHD medication in elementary school in order to attend but wanted to come off them when he hit puberty. However, during a stint where he began to take them again, he started abusing them.
Robbins says when Martin could no longer use ADHD medication, he turned to recreational meth.
After his addiction issues escalated further, Robbins made the difficult decision to enter a voluntary care agreement with the Ministry of Children and Family Development in 2022. Robbins would maintain guardianship and custody, but Martin would live elsewhere to keep her other kids safe.
Martin’s biggest wish was to come home, his mother says.
“He would say, just let me come home, and I won’t do it anymore. And it’s like, buddy, but you’re an addict. It doesn’t work like that,” Robbins said.
Martin was on probation related to “drug use aggression” and placed on house arrest in April for not following the conditions before he was let off at the end of May.
During two months of house arrest, Robbins says she had her son back.
“I had the most fantastic kid. He was coming home for visits, he was getting along with his sisters, he was clean. He really liked that,” she said.
According to Robbins, probation is inadvertently the reason her son is dead today.
She says a probation officer was going to breach Martin for not following house rules in mid-June, but told him they wouldn’t do it until July 5.
Robbins says her son took that as free reign to have a wild week.
“The moment he was let out at the end of May, he just went loose. He just started going to the streets and doing whatever he wanted,” she said.
Martin was reported missing during that time, but Robbins says police did little to help.
He didn’t make it until July 5. Martin was found dead on July 1.
“It was very difficult because I advocated for him to get into treatment and most treatment centres [say], ‘No, he has autism, we can’t support them,” Robbins said.
Robbins has since joined the Mission Overdose Community Action Team (MOCAT) and hopes to continue raising awareness that dying of addiction is not something to be ashamed of.
“My advocacy does not end just because my son’s story ended,” she said.
She hopes to get a job working with kids who are on the spectrum and support parents with similar experiences.
“I think a lot of parents think it’s their fault. It’s really our system’s fault,” she said.