For Delilah Saunders, it all comes back to her sister, Loretta.
“I couldn’t stop crying one night because I realized how close I was to being reunited with her and waking up from a four-year nightmare,” she said, recalling waking up in hospital last month after a week and half of being unconscious after suffering acute liver failure.
“But a part of me also knew that I have a purpose here, I have work to do here.”
Loretta Saunders, an Inuk woman from Happy Valley-Goose Bay, was murdered in Halifax almost four years ago. Delilah Saunders, Loretta’s sister, has since become a prominent activist for missing and murdered Indigenous women.
She was back in the spotlight in December when she was hospitalized in Ottawa for acute liver failure.
After she was denied a spot on a waiting list for a new liver because of her history with alcohol use, protests broke out, with people claiming the policy requiring patients on the waiting list for a new organ to have abstained from alcohol for six months prior was discriminatory.
Friends, family and members of the public raised money for a lawyer and offered the 25-year-old their own liver tissue.
“It was very hard to hear that even if my family and friends and amazing kind strangers who have been supporting me from across the country wanted to donate their liver tissue and that they were unable to due to policy,” she said.
Her condition was so serious, she said, doctors told her friends and family that if they wanted to say goodbye to her, they needed to get to Ottawa.
Alcohol ‘could have definitely contributed’
Saunders said alcohol “could have definitely contributed” to her health issues — she was back in hospital last week with pancreatitis, of which a leading cause is alcohol abuse — but that she was sober for “the majority of 2017 and a good portion of 2016.”
“I have been working diligently on my sobriety,” she said. “Following my sister’s death, I definitely leaned on [alcohol]. However, I saw how it negatively impacted my work and how it negatively impacted my potential.”
She said she had been in treatment programs to deal with the drinking, and in…