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Donations help Nunavut children visit dying father in Ottawa

Five children from Kimmirut, Nunavut, will fly to Ottawa tomorrow morning to see their dying father thanks to a significant donation from First Air and more than $8,000 in online donations.

First Air and an online fundraising campaign help reunite Bobby Barrieau's family

Bobby Barrieau, who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, is in hospital in Ottawa. (Submitted by Edward Flynn)

Five children from Kimmirut, Nunavut, will fly to Ottawa tomorrow morning to see their dying father thanks to a significant donation from First Air and more than $8,000 in online donations.

Bobby Barrieau has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and last week doctors in Ottawa told him he will likely not return home.

His wife, Kitty Arlooktoo Barrieau, is with him in Ottawa but his children, ages six to 23, are still in Kimmirut.

Edward Flynn, principal of the Qaqqalik School in Kimmirut and a family friend, launched an online fundraising campaign Sunday to help cover their travel costs. The cost of one regular round-trip ticket from Kimmirut to Ottawa is about $3,500.

Donations will help cover airfare, food and hotel rooms for a month. 

First Air also provided the family with a "significant" discount on the price of airline tickets.

"We want to say thank you to everyone that donated," Flynn said. "I can't express how thankful I am, and how thankful Kitty and her family are."

He said he spoke to Arlooktoo Barrieau over the phone this morning, and she told him her husband's condition had gotten worse. He was admitted today to the Élisabeth Bruyère Hospital, which has a large palliative care unit. 

"The news is not too good," Flynn said. "Kitty informed me that she is very thankful, but she tells me she's tired and she needs the help of her children. She needs them with her."

Flynn said donations came in from all over Nunavut, Canada, and even the United States. A 12-year-old girl from Iqaluit who recently won two return tickets from Iqaluit to Ottawa donated them to the family. 

"The community has really come together. Today there's a huge penny sale in Kimmirut," Flynn said.

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