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Sarnia’s battle with addiction gets $1M boost

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Deborah Hook, left, project manager, withdrawal management services at Bluewater Health, shares a lighter moment with Judith Alix following the announcement of a $1 million donation to the hospital foundation from the Judith and Norman Alix Foundation.

Cathy Dobson

What Norm Alix and his family witnessed at Bluewater Health’s ER convinced the late Sarnia philanthropist to make the largest individual donation in the hospital foundation’s history.

During the months before his death, Alix made several trips to the ER and was shocked to see police bring in youth suffering from obvious substance abuse.

It happened more than once, said his nephew Adam Alix. All the stats and media reports about the devastation of drugs and alcohol in Sarnia/Lambton were suddenly driven home.

“That’s when they said, let’s do something. We can’t have young individuals in our community suffering from substance abuse. It’s scary to see this disease is hitting 12 and 13-year-olds.

“That really was the catalyst that moved this thing forward,” said Alix.

Adam Alix spoke on behalf of his family Tuesday (June 17) in front of 100 guests gathered in the hospital’s atrium to announce a $1-million gift from the Judith and Norman Alix Foundation specifically to fight local substance abuse.

The money will kick off an endowment fund, which will produce interest every year for capital equipment and staff training to assist the hospital’s new management withdrawal program.

The hope is more donors will add to the endowment and the community’s goal of a residential treatment facility will be realized, said Alix.

“This is my Uncle Norman’s last passion,” his nephew said to a standing ovation. “Drugs and alcohol are impacting every nook and cranny of this community. He wanted to get this program going.”

Norm Alix died June 8 at the age of 75, just days before the hospital could formally recognize his generosity.

His widow Judith attended the ceremony with her son Joe. She wiped away tears when it was noted the hospital atrium has been named for the couple, and their names in silver lettering were unveiled.

Sarnia-Lambton has received operational funding from the Ontario government to address an escalating number of people coping with substance abuse, but is one of the few regions without a residential treatment facility.

That is really what the Alix family wants established, Adam Alix said.

The hospital is working on a business plan and trying to find a location for a facility but there’s no timeline yet on when that will happen.

“We’re moving as quickly as we can,” said Deb Hook, manager of outpatient mental health and addiction services at Bluewater.

“We recognize there is a pressing need and we’re pushing hard,” she said.

“I’m deeply touched by today’s announcement.”



  • Moved to Point Edward in the early ‘50s
  • Norman Alix owned Steeplejack Services since 1977
  • Began making philanthropic donations to the community in early ‘80s
  • Started with $250,000 for second ice pad at Clearwater Arena
  • Recent donations include funding for synthetic turf at Norm Perry Park (now Alix Field); $1.5 million toward the Judith and Normal Alix Art Gallery; ongoing support of St. Joseph’s Hospice
  • Adam Alix, board member with the Judith and Norman Alix Foundation, says a working relationship with Lambton County is being formalized for future donations











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