Mother of Sask. woman who died after bug bite infection calls for increased services for homeless

Angela Andrews was living on the streets when she was bit by a bug, resulting in two strokes

Posted: December 08, 2022
Last Updated: December 08, 2022

Angela Andrews died in Regina in October after a bug bite she had got infected. According to her mother Wanda Natawayous, Angela left the hospital before getting a diagnosis. (Submitted by Wanda Natawayous)

Wanda Natawayous of Saskatoon worries about her granddaughter. The preschooler's mother Angela Andrews recently died, and she sometimes wakes up crying.

"I have to explain to her why her mother's not around now. Especially when she's older, it's going to be hard," said Natawayous of her granddaughter Raelynn Andrews-Walker.

Andrews was living on the streets of Regina before she died on Oct. 4. 


One day, she was bit on the temple by an unknown bug. She went to the hospital for the bite, but left before doctors could give her her results. Because she had no address or phone, hospital staff were unable to reach her. 

Natawayous says the bite resulted in a blood infection. Eventually, 22-year-old Andrews had two strokes and died. Doctors think there may also have been an underlying autoimmune disorder that was never diagnosed.

Life had been hard for Andrews leading up to the fatal bug bite.

"She was going through some things. When the baby [Raelynn] was about four months old, she left. And she got into addictions," said Natawayous.

Raelynn Andrews-Walker by her mother Angela Andrews' side after she suffered a stroke. (Submitted by Wanda Natawayous)

Andrews was taking drugs like crystal meth and fentanyl. 


"But it didn't matter how far she fell into her addictions, Raelynn was always the first thing on her mind. Any kind of help she received she would give half of whatever she received to Raelynn to help with her."

Natawayous says Andrews wanted to get treatment. But that it was hard for her to make that step because she had no address, phone or any other way to contact anyone or be contacted. 

"Just a couple weeks before she passed, she got ahold of me and she wanted to go into detox," she said.

Wanda Natawayous, seen here with her granddaughter Raelynn Andrews-Walker, wanted to share the story of her daughter Angela Andrews' death so that the same thing doesn't happen to other homeless individuals. (CBC News)

More services needed

Natawayous says her daughter died because there are not enough services for those without homes. She wants the Government of Saskatchewan to step up. And she wants it to start with reversing a change to the Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS) program. Natawayous wants the government to stop giving the money directly to the people on SIS, and return to having that money go straight to landlords. 

"They're giving people this money and they're expecting them to go out and pay their bills when they're not mentally prepared to do it," Natawayous said. 

"Before they had their homes paid for ... they could have their bills paid directly, and they weren't in these situations."


Angela Andrews with her daughter Raelynn Andrews-Walker. At the end of her life, Andrews was living away from Raelynn on the streets of Regina. (Submitted by Wanda Natawayous)

She says many people with addictions or mental health issues are not familiar with budgeting money.

Natawayous misses her daughter greatly and wants people to hear her story.

"I don't want to see anyone else's child or mother or father or aunt, uncle, cousin or anything to be out there and pass away because of the same situation that my daughter passed away from. It was unnecessary and no one else should have to lose their family members because of lack of services."

Funding community workers

Andrews was a resident of the homeless encampment Camp Hope in Pepsi Park (Core Park) in fall 2021. When the camp was dismantled, 40 of its residents went to a temporary shelter, while 80 were left without shelter.

Of those 80 people, one in four have died since last November. 


These numbers come from Alysia Johnson, one of the founding organizers of Camp Hope and a board chair at Carmichael Outreach in Regina. But she says the people who have died, like Andrews, are not statistics. 

"What the community needs to understand is that there is a real family behind that," said Johnson. 

Alysia Johnson is one of the founding organizers of Camp Hope and a board chair at Carmichael Outreach in Regina. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

Like Andrews, many homeless people lack a phone or address.

"These are the kind of life-or-death logistical challenges...  And we had pregnant mothers at Camp Hope. We had people that we were trying to coordinate getting them to the hospital in labour. And I can't stress how difficult that is when people don't have an address and don't have a phone number," Johnson said. 

Both Natawayous and Johnson say there are not enough shelters in Regina. And the ones that do exist are temporary services that don't fully meet the needs of those who are homeless. 

"We tend to frame these issues through this idea of capital spending and capital projects," said Johnson, who feels that too much onus is placed on simply building units to house the homeless.


"I don't know a nonprofit in Regina that has ever recommended that solution," Johnson said. 

"We do have vacant housing units and what we need are human to human supports. I need funding for staff so that people can help look after one another and provide those wrap-around supports and deal with the underlying causes."

Camp Hope in Regina was the temporary home of more than 100 people in the fall of 2021. (Cory Herperger/CBC/Radio-Canada Saskatchewan)

Johnson says addictions, mental health and other supports are not capital projects. 

"This is human work. If we invest in the people, that will ultimately help remove barriers for service."

Johnson suggests having addictions councillor and caseworkers on staff at homeless housing units who can offer support, make sure those with mental health issues are taking their medication, and check-in on people to make sure they're safe. 

In an emailed statement, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Social Services said that it continues to search for new partnerships and encourage community-based organizations to reach out to explore ways they can use underused housing stock for their clients while they provide them with those supports.


The ministry says it encourages community-based organization partners to reach out when they become aware of a client who may be experiencing complex challenges.

"We will work with these clients and refer them to mental health and addictions supports provided by human service partners," read the statement. 

LISTEN | Sask. mom says her daughter died because there are not enough services for the homeless:

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Angela Andrews died at 22 years old after a bug bite became infected. We hear from her mom and an advocate from Carmichael Outreach about what they'd like to see change.  10:59


Laura Sciarpelletti
Journalist & Radio Columnist

Laura is a journalist for CBC Saskatchewan. She is also the community reporter for CBC's virtual road trip series Land of Living Stories and host of the arts and culture radio column Queen City Scene Setter, which airs on CBC's The Morning Edition. Laura previously worked for CBC Vancouver. Some of her former work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, NYLON Magazine, VICE Canada and The Tyee. Laura specializes in human interest, arts and environmental coverage. She holds a master of journalism degree from the University of British Columbia. Follow Laura on Twitter: @MeLaura. Send her news tips at

With files from Saskatoon Morning