Nunavut boy uses Children's Wish to fly grandparents 3,400 km for a visit

Four-year-old Jake Amarualik, who is being treated for leukemia in Ottawa, made 'one of the most heartwarming wishes ever.'

'It was one of the most heartwarming wishes ever,' says Children's Wish Foundation coordinator

Jake Amarualik with his grandparents, Nancy and Peter Amarualik, and younger brother Sakku. Jake is using his children's wish to reunite this part of his family while he receives treatment in Ottawa. (Submitted by Sheeba Nagmalik)

Four-year-old Jake Amarualik moved to Ottawa from Resolute Bay, Nunavut, almost two years ago to fight leukemia.

His grandparents still live in Resolute Bay, so when Jake's nurse filled out the paperwork to qualify him for a wish from the Children's Wish Foundation, he knew what he wanted. 

Resolute Bay, Nunavut, lies about 3,400 kilometres north of Ottawa. (CBC)
"All he wanted was his grandma and grandpa, and I just think it is one of the most special wishes I've ever got to be a part of," said Stephanie Allen, wish co-ordinator for Manitoba and Nunavut.

"It's so selfless, it's such an incredible bond between Jake and his grandparents. It was one of the most heartwarming wishes ever," Allen said.

Nancy and Peter Amarualik will fly to Ottawa to see Jake, his parents, and his younger brother, Sakku, on Aug. 18.

Amarualik was diagnosed with leukemia in April 2015. (Submitted by Sheeba Nagmalik)

Few children in Amarualik's situation face a $7,000 round-trip fare to bring a family member to visit. 

Allen said that would have been the cost to fly each of the Amarualiks to Ottawa from their home in Resolute Bay (for a total of $14,000) had First Air not stepped in to subsidize the flight.

"He's been asking since [they] left, when he's going to see them again, and we have to tell him that we have to wait until we can go home," said Jake's mother Sheeba Nagmalik. 

Amarualik with Sheeba Nagmalik's mother Martha Enuaraq. (Submitted by Sheeba Nagmalik)
Allen is in the midst of planning their week now. So far, she's confirmed an amusement and water park visit, as well as a professional photo shoot of the family all together.

"The wish that we grant doesn't just affect the child, it affects the entire family. The families have something to look forward to," Allen said. "They don't have to worry about anything, everything gets taken care of.

"It's a nice relaxing reset for the family to enjoy each other."

She says she's working on getting restaurant gift cards and, because of Jake's love of trains, a chance to get on a train and meet the conductor.

"The whole time we've been down here he's been collecting Thomas the Tank Engine trains and he knows all the names," Nagmalik said. "He still has a list of trains he wants."

She said she's looking forward to getting out with the family now that Jake is well enough to be around other people.

At this point he is getting chemotherapy once a month.

Jake will start school in Ottawa this fall, but the milestone Nagmalik is really looking forward to is the end of his treatment in August 2018.

With files from Toby Otak