Iqaluit man gets territory's first guide dog

A legally blind Iqaluit man was recently paired up with a guide dog - the first in Nunavut.

Nunavut's first guide dog

10 years ago
Duration 2:12
CBC's Pauline Pemik reports from Iqaluit

A Nunavut man was recently paired up with the territory’s first guide dog.

Noah Papatsie, a former videojournalist, lost his sight in 2000 when video lights blew up in his face. After several attempts to save his eyesight, Papatsie was told he was legally blind.

"I really didn't know what to do, Am I going to lose everything? Am I going to lose my children? Am I going to lose my friends? I mean, I really didn't know what to do."

For years he used a cane to navigate Iqaluit, where temperatures hover around -30C in the winter and there are no sidewalks.

But now he has Xeno, Nunavut's first guide dog.

"Xeno's a pretty special dog and Noah needed a special dog simply because of the environment," said Karen Hanlon, an instructor with Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Papatsie met Xeno in Ottawa. They spent four weeks together learning to work as a team, and continued in Nunavut during the holidays with a trainer, with Xeno decked out in winter gear to brave the frigid temperatures.

"He's like my buddy, like a buddy from the sky, almost like an angel from the sky who fell," said Papatsie. "We're bonding with each other and he's really happy."