N.W.T. elder who won $1M forced to rely on pension once more

An elder from Dettah, N.W.T., who won the lottery says he is back to living on his old age pension after lending family and friends most of his winnings - without being paid back.

Michel Paper lent most of his winnings to family, friends

CBC's Elizabeth McMillan reports from Yellowknife 2:00

An elder from Dettah, N.W.T., who won the lottery says he is back to living on his old age pension.

Michel Paper, who turned 99 this fall, won $1 million in the Lotto 6/49 lottery two years ago. At the time, he thought his days of worrying about money had ended.

Shelly Leonardis, Paper's daughter-in-law, said the family changed their phone number due to the high number of calls they were getting from people asking Paper for money. (CBC)

"She said I won $1 million. I was so happy," he recalled.

Paper hoped to support his family and people living in poverty, but the requests quickly piled up.

"I came back giving people $100 here, everywhere, some $7,500, $5,000, giving all that away. I continued doing that. And then again people come back to me and say, can I borrow some money," he said.

Some of Paper’s money is in a trust he set up for his family, but they can barely afford to live off the interest on the trust. And now, his winnings are gone.

"I think they've taken advantage of him lots. I've heard people going up to him at bingo and asking for money … he's sitting in coffee shops and being asked for money, even by teenagers, people that didn't even know him but know of him," said his daughter-in-law Shelly Leonardis.

Leonardis said Paper never spent money on himself. She added that now, people avoid him because they owe him money. 

"I just want the people to respect him more, or even just come over and have coffee with him, he doesn't get that much anymore," she said.

Leonardis said Paper never questioned why people needed money. She said some people took advantage of him.

"People have borrowed money, a couple thousand, $5,000 here, and they'd always say, 'OK Michel, we're paying you back', but since then nobody has paid back. And the people that owe him money don't even say hi to him anymore. So that's been really sad and disrespectful I think."

Leonardis said the family even changed their phone number after too many people called asking for money.

Paper hopes people who hear his story consider paying back the money they borrowed.