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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

Dealing with life

BY Will Nicholls Apr 13, 2022

There are times in everyone’s lives when they have to make difficult decisions. Decisions the family do not want to make but nevertheless must be made. Such was the decision to put my mother Dorothy in the Royal Brock, a retirement home that offered services she needs at this time in her life. We searched for something closer to home or near family but it was not possible at the time.

You see, mom has Parkinson’s disease, and she now requires special care. Simply put Parkinson’s disease is neurological disorder affecting the brain. While the beginning of the disease is mild it gets worse over time. It leads to shaking, stiffness, difficulty with walking, balance and coordination. People can even have trouble with talking in later stages. It can also lead to cognitive problems such as memory loss and more.

Mom had limited mobility in the past year, but it had gotten worse. At times she would need assistance to make it to the washroom even with her walker. The medical staff at the Mistissini clinic were amazing in assisting her. Doctor Pepin, nurses Daniel, Alex and Christine helped a lot and even now are looking for a long-term place for her that she would be comfortable in. They have to be commended for the home-care they did.

At Christmas when my father passed away Evadney Coonishish-Blacksmith came over to assist in taking care of mom. Initially she refused to take payment for this saying it was her duty as a Christian. She did such a good job we asked if we could hire her and she agreed She would help my mother to dress and even got her to do some exercises. My brother don and myself were happy that she arrived on the scene as a home caregiver. Evadney would show up with traditional foods and even taught how to finally make a decent Bannock. She was like part of the family in no time at all. Her two dogs would accompany her every now and then. Seeing how mom responded to them helped me to understand how much a therapeutic animal meant to people of all ages when they aren’t feeling well.

The cost of the Royal Brock is expensive, and we didn’t think we could cover it. Fortunately, an old friend of the family Judy Cummings came to the rescue. She said she would pay for the first month and more if it was needed. Mom was hesitant about having her pay, but Judy insisted saying that mom had helped so many people in the past and now it was her turn to be helped. Friends like this seem to be few and far between, but we have found out they aren’t as rare as we think. Her sisters and a niece or two came over to help mom pack for her journey.

There will be other costs, but the burden has been lessened. Mom will have a Parkinson’s physiotherapist that will hopefully decrease her mobility problems. The Royal Brock also has a variety of services that will assist mom in daily living. On site are registered practical nurses and personal support workers. Mom’s needs will be taken care of and hopefully in the future a permanent place will be found for her closer to Mistissini or near family in Quebec. We understand that a new Elders residential facility is delayed in Mistissini but it would be a Godsend for Elders like my mother to be able to stay in the community she loves and grew up in. It is essential that we allow our Elders to remain in our communities and our lives.

I would like to honor my brother Don as he has taken care of both my parents for many years. While I have assisted in this occasionally in the last few months, I understand the burden he took upon himself for all that time and can only say that I love him for his dedication to them.

And lastly, shortly before we left to Brockville, we learned that the Cree Health Board is supposed to have a physiotherapist that can help people that have problems such as my mothers. Such a service can help to slow the progress of the disease and should be readily available to any Cree who needs it.

A final thanks to all those who gave of their time and efforts to make my mother’s life a better one and made the difficult decision a little easier. Love, caring and hope is a precious thing to receive.

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Will Nicholls is a Cree from Mistissini. He started his career off in radio and is still one of the youngest radio DJ’s in Canadian history, having a regular show on CFS Moosonee at the age of 12. Will was one of the founding members of the Nation, and has been its only Editor-in-Chief.