"I wouldn’t be here without Bruce House…I need you to know that."
Born in Pangnirtung, in the Nunavut territories, Meeka lived with her parents and extended family. Determined to make a difference, she became a teacher—a career that would span 15 years. However a series of events followed that would change her reality.
A man came into Meeka’s life, and she and her children headed south—leaving her job, family, and her strong Inuit identity. She began to drink and use drugs to numb the pain of her loneliness. She sought help from a local centre for Inuit women, but tragically this led to her being disclosed to her community as HIV positive, resulting in alienation from her family and the community she trusted. Her relationship ended. Her beautiful children were sent back home to be cared for by her family and she was cut off by those she needed the most.
Seven years had passed before Meeka went back to Pangnirtung for a funeral. During that time she had lived life on the street, in shelters or in a tent. Her health was deteriorating. Her untreated HIV was making her very ill. When she arrived she was taken by air ambulance to Iqaluit, and slipped into a coma. During this time she recalled hearing the voices of her former students, she had vivid memory flashbacks and she believed she was going to die. Two weeks later she awoke to the news she had double pneumonia and that the newly introduced HIV medication was not working. For two months she stayed in the hospital, barely able to walk, and unable to care for herself. The kind nurses at the hospital referred Meeka to Bruce House. She moved into the Transition House in a weakened state, but determined to get well. For a year she was given the expert care required for someone with HIV-related challenges. Meeka got stronger, and well enough to travel back to Nunavut twice to see her grandchildren being born.
For the last decade Meeka has shared a Bruce House apartment with the love of her life, Rob. She does not drink, and drugs are not part of her new revitalized life. She has a fighting spirit that took her from the darkness of isolation, to a life empowered by a stable home and a renewed sense of self.
When asked what is the best part of her life now, there is no hesitation in her answer, “we have a beautiful home we take pride in…not only that, I have been with my best friend for 21 years and we are able to share this life together.” She says the best part of living with supported independence is “having Bruce House as part of my family.”
Thank you for your kindness and generosity. Meeka’s life was changed because you cared enough to help Bruce House help others. We are forever grateful.