Fundraiser supports 7-year old boy’s surgery

(Photo courtesy of Cassandra Burt)

A mother from the NWT has started a GoFundMe page to help raise money for her family as they prepare for their son’s surgery in B.C.

Cassandra Blondin Burt, is a 32- year-old Dene woman, whose family is originally from Délı̨nę, and she is reaching out to communities, far and wide for financial help as she navigates the complexities of motherhood, life and caring for a sick child.

This will be the first time in over two years since she has seen her children and this is not how she imagined it.

“I wanted to have a whole new life set up for them, but creator is asking us to do something very different,” she says.

Django Burtier has a rare genetic bone disease called neurofibromatosis, which can cause tumours to form on nerve tissue, including the brain and spinal cord.

Burtier, now seven years old is back in the hospital for a fourth time, this time to replace some telescopic wires in his leg.

“That money helps,” she says “But more than anything, it was just seeing people donate seeing that people cared.”

She says the money will help her with groceries, rent, travel expenses, stuffed animals and Disney movies for the kids.

“And to not worry about my credit card being declined,” she says, is a huge relief.

Before starting the fundraiser Burt had only $30 in her pocket.

“I had no idea what I was going to do.”

“I started the fundraiser because I’ve managed to survive as a single person,” she says, “I’ve worked (hard) for the last two years to still be sitting here.”

Burtier is scheduled back at the hospital on Oct. 29 and with the help of the community, Burt will be there too.

To donate to the family click here.

A second chance

“I’ve cried so many nights, just wanting to be there for them,” Burt says. “losing them was the hardest battle I’ve had in my life.”

It has been a difficult couple of years for the family; in that time Burt lost her grandmother, her home and custody of her two children, Maia and Django.

“I was a really busy person and that loss was so unexpected,” she says, “I had no point of reference for what grief of that kind felt like or how to handle it.”

Due to intense feelings of burnout, coupled with a new diagnosis for autism, Burt realized she needed a break for the betterment of herself and her children.

“For the first time, I realized I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t do the recovery,” she says.

It was at that time that she made the difficult decision to leave her children with her ex-partner.

Living in her truck and working a “crappy bartender job” to get by she moved back to the North to learn more about her grandmother. The woman that raised her.

Since moving back, she says she had intense recurring dreams about her grandmother and other relatives.

She says in these moments she could feel her presence.

“She would just sort of be there in my house somewhere, quietly, loving me… sending me messages that I was a child of creator and that I was worthy of learning and walking this journey,” she remembers.

Through these experiences, she was able to gather some perspective and ultimately heal.

“It was like they pulled me back into the real world,” And I think I’ve kind of pieced myself together since.”

Luckily, Burt was not alone and able to lean on her former partner Ben Gauthier for support, while she found herself.

“It made a lot of sense for her to go, she needed to go to feel safe and heal.”

Gauthier took on full custody during this time and being a solo parent wasn’t easy.

A period he calls transformative, he thought, “how do we move forward healing ourselves and showing that we can still try and make things work for the kids?”

“I gotta say it’s not for the faint of heart to stay at home and raise two kids,” he says.

Gauthier is on disability and also has the help of his mother Norma, who often watches the children and home schools them.

Burt and Gauthier are grateful for the out-pour of support from the community and say the money will go a long way in helping finance the trip and Djangos recovery.

About the Author

Mariah Caruso
Mariah Caruso is a digital journalist, originally from Toronto, Canada. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a Hons. Bachelor of Arts and completed her Journalism post-grad at Sheridan College. She has an insatiable appetite for life, storytelling, connecting to the people, and getting to the heart of the issue. Mariah is excited to begin her journey and career in Yellowknife, NWT, and get involved with the community. If you have a story idea, feel free to send her an email at mariah.caruso@cklbradio.com