Jake Amarualik's wish finally came true.
The little boy from Nunavut was able to see his grandparents Nancy and Peter Amarualik for the first time in two years, thanks to the Children's Wish Foundation.
The pair travelled 3,400 kilometres from Resolute Bay to Ottawa to spend time with Jake, his parents and his younger brother Sakku Sunday as the five-year-old boy took a break from cancer treatment.
"Because I wished it, it happened," Jake said in an interview.
Jake was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in April 2015 and has spent the last two years being treated at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa.
"We had ups and downs," said his mother, Sheeba Nagmalik. "The first [year] was difficult but things got better in the second. It was hard but all the hardship made us strong."
Importance of family
Nancy Amarualik said she was very excited to see her young grandson again and to have her family reunited.
"He's happy to see us and we're happy to see him too," she said.
"Ever since he was a baby we've been calling him. It's good to finally see him in person."
Strong family bonds are important in her culture and keeping connections alive is critical, Nancy said.
"We have to stay close together as a family. Work together, help each other. That's what family means to us."
Sheeba believes her son's wish to be reunited with his grandparents shows how much he loves and cares for his family, even though they are thousands of kilometres away.
"I was really touched because our family is so far away and he talks about them a lot," she said.
'He's a strong little kid'
When CP Rail train conductor Sean Orr heard about Jake's story and his love of trains, he decided he wanted to help the young Inuk boy experience his first ride.
"I have a couple of kids with special needs that spent time in CHEO, so it all comes home to me," he said.
They wore matching conductor's outfits and traveled with Jake's family from Smiths Falls, Ont., to Ottawa on CP Rail's Canada 150 Train, which has more than 10 restored Royal Canadian Pacific heritage cars.
"The day has been unbelievable. It's been great," Orr said. "He's a strong little kid."
A new chapter
Jake will be starting school in the fall. Sheeba, who teaches Inuktitut to children in kindergarten to Grade 6 back home, said her son will be taking language lessons in Ottawa to stay in touch with his heritage.
"Our culture is very important to us," she said. "That's what keeps us together. We don't want to lose that."
Jake will continue his cancer treatment until August 2018, and Sheeba is hopeful about her son's future.
"We can look forward now. We have another year to go ... [but] that is nothing compared to the two and a half years that we went through here without family."