But the system is of little comfort
to Elsie Adams, who can’t stay at
the Nunavik House patient home
in Montreal while Charlie Adams,
her husband and one of Nunavik’s
best-known singers and recording
artists, lies in Montreal General
Hospital with tubes and pins holding
his abdomen together.
The reason? Charlie, who’s from
Kuujjuaq, was living in Montreal,
not Nunavik, when he was injured.
Neither he nor his family are entitled
to Nunavik health services.
Charlie and his sweet but haunting
country-rock sound are known
throughout the North. A pioneer in
the development of recorded Inuktitut
pop music, he was a headline
performer at CBC’s ? rst True North
concert in 1980, and his music has
been recorded many times by CBC
For the past several months, Charlie,
now homeless, has been living
rough on the streets of Montreal.
Three weeks ago, a vehicle backed
over him as he lay sleeping in an
alley and nearly killed him.
“I was lying there sleeping. The ? rst
wheel passed over me and I started
yelling to the guy because I’m in
pain and all that, and the second
wheel stopped right on top of my stomach,” Charlie said in an interview from his hospital bed in Montreal. “The ? rst wheel broke my
pelvis, and my intestines went out through my rectum
and my stomach.”
He remembers lying there screaming for about 15 minutes
as the driver kept on talking on a cell phone.
“He heard the bump and me yelling, but he didn’t move
it. He heard me, but he was on the phone,” Charlie
said. “Somebody else called 911.”
Police and an ambulance ? nally arrived. No charges
were laid, Charlie says, because the driver never left
“My eyes almost popped out. When they lifted the car
off me, I passed out. Then I woke up in the hospital.”
Although Nunavik patient services paid for Elsie to ? y
from Kuujjuaq to Montreal to be by her husband’s side,
she was told soon after to leave Nunavik House and
return to Nunavik. Instead, Elsie chose to stay in Montreal
to comfort her husband - even if it means living
Until being called by Nunatsiaq News last week, Ginette
Taillon, coordinator of the Northern Module, which
provides patient services to Nunavimmiut in Montreal,
said she thought Elsie had returned to Nunavik.
“Normally, we shouldn’t have had her join her husband,”
Taillon said. But Taillon said Elsie was given
food and bus vouchers, and made her own decision.
“She didn’t want to go. That’s her choice. To say she’s
homeless, well, she was able to see and be with her
husband, whom she hadn’t seen for months.”
Lynn Spark, a social worker with the Northern Module,
said Nunavik House makes exceptions, but has been
“chronically overloaded” for months, obliged to house
patients and escorts in hotels and boarding homes.
and escorts in hotels and boarding homes.
Part of this is due to the exodus of long-time, experienced
physicians from Kuujjuaq this summer, which
has left this community with a stock of new or temporary
Up to 35 pregnant women from Ungava Bay Coast
communities are in Montreal awaiting delivery of their
babies due to a shortage of doctors.
Spark said Nunavik House is extremely “accommodating”
and “? exible” and never turns people away without
somewhere else to go.
But she said Nunavik House is only for patients who
are Nunavik residents.
“Somebody who comes down on their own, or is living
in Montreal, or somebody is living in Val d’Or, no,”
But Charlie says he wasn’t the one who made the
mistake that brought Elsie to Montreal, and now he’s
upset because Nunavik House won’t let his wife stay
there while he mends. After being homeless himself,
Charlie now sees his wife fending for herself in the the
“I thought my wife had a right to stay at Nunavik House,
just as much as anybody,” Charlie said. “During the
day, she wants to be here. She helps me. She doesn’t
want to go up North with me here with these kinds of
injuries. No one would want to.”
Now, the singer of Nunavik’s beloved and upbeat song
“Quviasuppunga,” or “I’m Happy,” faces more serious
surgery, and won’t even begin learning to walk again
for at least another month. He’s eager to return to
Nunavik and continue his rehabilitation at Puvirnituq’s