A Baker Lake woman who suffered a stroke is finally back home after community members fundraised for her to get a new wheelchair.

“It’s always good to be back home,” Ruby Atutuvaa told Kivalliq News after returning to the community.

Atutuvaa said she was taken to the health centre on Feb. 23. She has no recollection of the day, but, according to her common law Ivan Quinangnaq, she was medevaced to a Winnipeg hospital after he came home and found her in bad shape.

“From my understanding, my common-law went to go buy supper for us, and I don’t really know what happened after that,” she said.

“I actually woke up going to Riverview Hospital in Winnipeg. I was at Health Science first but I don’t have any memory of that.”

When she arrived in Winnipeg, the doctor told her she had suffered a stroke, which left her unable to use the right side of her body. At first she was unable to talk but she has slowly been rehabilitating.

In order for her to return home though, Atutuvaa needed a wheelchair. When her good friend Carmen Ikuutaq heard about the news, she decided to fundraise to get her one.

“She cannot be standing up too long so she needs a wheelchair. To speed up the process, I thought it would be a good idea to collect pop can tabs,” Ikuutaq said.

Ikuutaq was told that if she collected 10,000 pop can tabs she could trade them in for a new wheelchair. So she put out a call for them on social media. By the next day she had already collected her quota.

“Apparently there were already some people that were collecting over a long period of time,” said Ikuutaq.

Thanks to her efforts, Atutuvaa finally returned to the community on May 21. Atutuvaa said she appreciates the support and is relieved to be back home.

“I’m grateful. That’s all I can say,” she said.

Atutuvaa is continuing her recovery. She has only been able to speak again since the end of March, in both Inuktitut and English.

She’s now trying to learn to adjust with the help of her son and her common-law.

“He’s been phenomenal. What more can I say?” she said. “It is very hard because I’m right-handed, but I have family that supports me.”

While her road to recovery has not been easy, Atutuvaa said doctors are hopeful that she can continue to progress over time.

“They said I’m going to slowly recover and we’ll take it from there,” she said.

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