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A Saskatoon woman says she’s honouring her sister’s dying wish.
Regina mom Cheryl Kay was admitted to a Regina hospital in December following a series of seizures related to low electrolytes. She was eventually placed on life support, and died Christmas Eve.
In the days before she fell into the coma, she asked her sister Rachel Smith to care for her children if she didn’t survive.
Kay’s youngest child is now with their birth father. Smith has welcomed the other six into her Saskatoon home.
They joined Smith, her husband and their own five kids.
Smith said the first priority was to let the kids know they are loved, and that they have a home. Then she called all her friends and family, who came together to buy Christmas presents for the children.
Smith, a graduate of Nutana Collegiate who’s worked at both the University of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies, is also busy running her own take-out restaurant, Bannock Express. Smith said she never considered turning the kids away.
“I didn’t think twice. Being the way I grew up, I was a ward of the government since I was 13 years old. I grew up in residential schools, group homes, foster homes. I just couldn’t let this happen to the children. They’ve been through so much already,” she said.
An online fundraising campaign has been set up for Kay’s funeral expenses and for the children. Smith said they need everything from diapers to laptop computers for school work. The campaign has raised nearly $5,000.
“Basically, everyone rallying and coming together has meant so much to my family in the memory of my sister. I feel her spirit is strong right now,” Smith said.
She and her husband are planning to home-school the kids until the end of this year to minimize the chance of bringing COVID-19 into their expanded household.
She’s in the process of applying for permanent guardianship.