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This article was published 26/12/2015 (1388 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
One family’s fight against asbestos-related cancer has lost their leader.
Raven ThunderSky, who had spearheaded the charge against the federal government over their use of the faulty asbestos-laced insulation, died in Winnipeg on Christmas Eve.
ThunderSky is the seventh family member to fall victim to the effects of an upbringing that was surrounded by asbestos in Poplar River First Nation and nearby Berens River.
ThunderSky had been dealing with asbestos-related lung disease and a family member said she had mesothelioma, an extremely rare form of lung cancer.
ThunderSky’s half sister Rita Swain died in 2008 after an over three-year battle with mesothelioma.
Both of her parents and four of her sisters had died of asbestos-related illnesses. Five of them had mesothelioma, and one had asbestosis.
ThunderSky’s daughter, Raven Gobeil, said her mother tried to play down the seriousness of her illness toward the end.
"She did down play it," Gobeil said. "She had nine kids, but three are underage. They’re going through hell right now - we all are."
Zonolite is a pebble-like attic insulation made from vermiculite that was tainted with asbestos when it was mined in Libby, Mont. That mine closed in 1990 because of the asbestos problem.
The Canadian government had recommended that homeowners use Zonolite, and even provided grants for its installation under the Canadian Home Insulation Program between 1977 and 1984. It's estimated between 200,000 and 300,000 homeowners took the government up on the offer.
Canada also paid for it to be installed in First Nations and military housing.
Tens of thousands of Winnipeg homes and businesses contain Zonolite, much of which was made from the Montana-mined vermiculite and found to contain naturally occurring asbestos.
ThunderSky’s daughter, Megan Butler, has set up her own GoFundMe account trying to raise funds for her, her husband and their two-month-old to get from Fort. St. John, B.C. to Winnipeg in time for ThunderSky’s New Year’s Eve funeral.
Butler said she hasn’t worked since having her child following a high-risk pregnancy and C-section. She said her husband is off work injured.
So far, Butler has raised $280 of the $3,800 goal.
— with files from Mia Rabson