Amid the darkness lies a bright light that radiates with positive energy. Iqaluit resident Noah Papatsie has been legally blind for about 15 years. Yet, it is his positive attitude that has allowed him to move beyond the darkness.
In 2000, while working with the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation, Papatsie had an accident that damaged his right retina. It was believed, the intense light from a shattered light source had blinded Papatsie in his right eye.
Unfortunately, it would take five years to determine why such darkness had befallen him.
Not long after the accident, Papatsie’s left eye began deteriorating. Over the years, he waited patiently for doctors to diagnose and treat his eye condition to avail.
Finally in 2005 when his retina became detached, he visited a medical specialist in Ottawa. Immediately, he had to undergo eye surgery.
During his visit down south, the doctors discovered Papatsie suffered from TB, which had attacked his eyes.
“I was suffering for five years,” said Papatsie adding his vision could have been saved completely had the TB been discovered earlier.
“They could (have) saved my eyesight after my accident,” explained the 50-year-old Inuk.
The years between 2005 to 2007 tested Papatsie’s mental strength as he endured numerous negative experiences. He lost his 19 year old son to suicide, his parents died and he progressively lost his left vision until he became completely blind.
“But during those time, I never really gave up,” said Papatsie referring to this period in his life.
Instead he accepted and prepared for his fate. Through the Canadian National Institute for the Blind he learned braille, assistive technology, cane movements and developed independent living skills.
Despite facing employment challenges and difficulties accessing local services for the disabled, the Iqaluit-born resident has chosen to remain in the territory.
“I love my community. That’s why I stayed. I love my family,” he explained.
Over the years, Papatsie has been motivated to bring awareness and education about issues related to the disabled community. He does not want anyone to suffer like he did.
“He loves to help a lot of people and that’s a good thing,” said his daughter Malaya Papatsie.
Today, he remains an active member of the community despite his blindness. He continues to be involved with the Nunavummi Disabilities Makinnasuaqtiit Society and the District Education Authority.
He served as a city councillor from 2013-2015 and 2017-2019. He also ran for mayor in 2015 and 2019. He believes one can achieve more through a positive attitude.
“I have been amazed and enlightened by working with Noah Papatsie. He has a positive energy that radiates through everything he does. Noah has the ability to inspire others because of this energy,” wrote Councillor Romeyn Stevenson.
“His positive attitude can make us learn more things and learn how to respect others and be kind to others,” said his daughter.