Man who died in Edmonton Remand Centre had FASD, should not have been in jail, says mother

Sylvie Salomon’s desperate search for her adopted son ended with a phone call Friday morning, informing her that Maxim Baril-Blouin had died in the Edmonton Remand Centre.

'For the last month, I’ve been left alone to fight for Maxim'

Sylvie Salomon says her adopted son Maxim Baril-Blouin had FASD and needed constant supervision. (Sylvie Salomon)

Sylvie Salomon's desperate search for her son ended with a phone call Friday morning, informing her that Maxim Baril-Blouin had died in the Edmonton Remand Centre.

"It's a call that you don't even think is real. You think it's a bad joke, of course. But it was real," said Salomon, who lives in Whitehorse, Yukon.

The cause of death has not been confirmed by Alberta Justice, but an incident report from the remand centre obtained by CBC News indicates that he died of a drug overdose. 

According to the document, Baril-Blouin consumed fentanyl and carfentanil in the early hours of July 13 and was found unresponsive by his cellmate around 7:15 a.m.

"It's upsetting because somebody should have watched him," Salomon told CBC News. "He was all by himself, no care, no supervision. He paid with his life."

'He shouldn't have been there'

5 years ago
Duration 1:23
Sylvie Salomon wants to know how her son, Maxim Baril-Blouin, died in the Edmonton Remand Centre last week.

The 26-year-old had fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) and required constant supervision, Salomon said. 

She still can't wrap her mind around the fact that her adopted son had been charged for uttering threats against an employee of the agency responsible for his well-being.

"He should never have been there," Salomon said of the remand centre. "You don't put someone with this kind of mental state in jail."

Court-ordered care

Salomon said she had been trying to locate her son since his arrest on June 19.

She said that for three weeks, Baril-Blouin was transferred back and forth between the Edmonton Remand Centre and the Royal Alexandra Hospital. She knew he was being moved around but was never able to connect with him.

"Everybody kind of said, 'Don't worry ma'am, he's 26,' " she said. "That's unacceptable."

Maxim Baril-Blouin was diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder as a child. He was energetic and impulsive, says his mother Sylvie Salomon. (Sylvie Salomon)

In 2013, while in Whitehorse, Baril-Blouin had been found not criminally responsible for unrelated offences because of his FASD.

The Yukon Review Board mandated that he live in a supervised environment.

He lived in Nova Scotia and Ontario under the care of different agencies before moving to Stony Plain, Alta., in January, his mother said.

He had his own apartment and the Yukon Review Board paid for services provided to him by an agency in Stony Plain.

The review board had wanted him to have more independence, Salomon said. But Baril-Blouin began sneaking out of his apartment at night to consume drugs and eventually ended up in hospital, she said.

While he was in hospital, his apartment was broken into and damaged, and the agency moved him into a hotel. 

"He became very frustrated," said Salomon. "It's not what he's used to. He needs a schedule, he needs to know when things are happening."

She believes the unstable situation led Baril-Blouin to lash out at staff of the Stony Plain agency. Police were called when he threatened staff, his mother said.

CBC News has seen an email message from the agency to Salomon explaining the circumstances that led to Baril-Blouin's arrest.

Remand Centre limbo 

On July 11, two days before his death, Baril-Blouin pleaded guilty in an Edmonton courtroom to uttering threats. 

Maxim Baril-Blouin loved to fish and had recently got his boating licence, says his mother Sylvie Salomon. (Sylvie Salomon)

He was sentenced to 30 days in jail, but received credit for time already served in custody, according to Alberta Justice. 

At the time of his death, Baril-Blouin was waiting to be taken back to Whitehorse at the review board's request, Salomon said. 

Instead, Salomon brought home Baril-Blouin's ashes.

"It's devastating," she said.

"We are trying to function, because we need answers, we need to keep going."

She said she'll keep fighting for better understanding and support for people who suffer from FASD. 

"I hope other parents will come forward, and say, 'It happened to [my child], too,' because things need to change."


Josee St-Onge


Josee St-Onge is a journalist with CBC Edmonton. She has also reported in French for Radio-Canada in Alberta and Saskatchewan.