On Saturday, Dec. 5 Myrine Kakfwi felt sick.
“By Monday, he said he was coughing so bad that he started coughing up blood,” says Dolly Pierrot, Myrine’s mother.
Now just over a month later he sits in the Intensive Care Unit of an Edmonton hospital, diagnosed with COVID-19.
Myrine grew up in Fort Good Hope and is a beneficiary of the Ayoni Keh Land Corporation.
The 30-year-old and loves going out on-the-land and hunting. Dolly says he also enjoys working with his hands and was training to become a carpenter in Alberta, when he caught the virus.
Myrine had asthma as a child — which made COVID-19 particularly serious — requiring him to now use a ventilator to help him breath.
But thanks to support from various communities across the Northwest Territories, he isn’t alone at the hospital.
Community members have raised enough financial support to cover Myrine’s parents’ stay in Edmonton, so they can be by their sons’ side.
Dolly and Wayne Kakfwi — Myrine’s father — are thanking everyone for their support during this difficult time.
Donations, messages and care packages have arrived from Délı̨nę, Tulita, Norman Wells, Fort Good Hope, Colville Lake, Behchokǫ and other communities.
One of the fundraisers was launched by Myrine’s former coworker, Roberta Bighetty of Norman Wells.
On Friday, she is hosting an online auction of various handcrafted goods with proceeds going to Dolly and Wayne.
When Roberta heard about Myrine’s situation she knew what to do.
A passionate sewer herself — she got in touch with two other friends who began reaching out to various community members asking for either hand crafted items or baked goods to be sold in the auction.
“We’ve just been asking people for donations. And they’ve been coming in. We have quite a few already,” she says.
Over 30 items will be for sale at the auction.
Roberta says she feels for the family, and hopes the fundraiser will help.
‘We need help, everybody comes forward’
Wayne’s voice cracks with emotion as he reflects on the support they’ve received so far.
“A friend of ours dropped off a bag of bannock, man that was so cool, gave us a little bit of home here in the city,” Wayne says. “I kind of just choked up about it.”
“I love our people …. It’s so humbling.”
Dolly says the messages of support are part of what keeps her going day-to-day.
“That just really helps. And for myself, like it helps me to stay strong. While this is going on with my son,” she says.
They have received well-wishes from across the NWT. But the support doesn’t stop there, as messages have been sent from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and even Alaska.
Dolly says this is an example of how Dene people and northerners in general support one another.
“Our people, we’ve always been like that. We need help, everybody comes forward, they all help each other,” she says.
Dolly and Wayne also received support from their MLA, Paulie Chinna, who organized their trip to visit their son in Edmonton.
In an emailed statement, she said she recognized the severity of the situation and the importance of helping the family quickly.
“As an MLA for the Sahtú, constituents are priority. During this time-sensitive situation the Yamoga Land Corporation assisted in travel and the community has supported the family for accommodations,” she wrote. “I express appreciation to the communities of Délı̨nę, Tulita. Norman Wells, Fort Good Hope and Colville Lake for their ongoing support to the Pierrot and Kakfwi family.”
The parents say the help they have received reflects how much the community cares about their son.
“Myrine has a crazy way of pulling people pulling us all together,” Wayne says.
Other deeds include someone in Edmonton paying for their hotel rooms, an anonymous $1,000 donation, as well as countless care packages.
Health care heroes and the severity of COVID-19
Wayne says being in the hospital made him recognize the sacrifice doctors and nurses have been making during the pandemic. He says all the health care workers have been excellent to Myrine.
“The doctors and nurses, I can’t say enough good things,” he says, before adding. “I feel sorry for them, I feel for their families.”
Wayne says he and Dolly spent New Years Eve with Myrine and he saw how difficult it was for them.
“You see the doctors, nurses… They’re just weary. You don’t see laughter in there. You don’t see smiles,” Wayne says.
He adds, the experience is an example of how serious the virus is.
“I don’t wish this on any parent; this COVID, it’s deadly,” he says. “Please just follow protocol… I’m gonna follow whatever they tell me to do. And I hope everybody else does.”
Going forward, Wayne says his faith is helping him, he went to church on Wednesday and felt better after going.
Now he and Dolly are asking for people to keep their son in their prayers.
“Just be safe out there. Keep your prayers coming. Miracles do happen. I have faith that things will turn out in his favor,” Wayne says.
The online auction hosted by Bighetty raised $11,055 and an additional $600 was donated after it closed.