An online fundraiser has been launched to support a Yellowknife mother-daughter duo facing a health scare.
In January, 24-year-old Savannah Lantz and her mother, Tanya, travelled to Edmonton after Savannah suffered multiple seizures. Doctors discovered an abnormal mass in Savannah’s brain.
The two now await a biopsy appointment that will require them once again to travel South.
Tanya MacIntosh, a friend of the Lantz family, is behind a fundraiser that has so far raised a little under $3,000 to help the pair cover travel costs and make up for lost wages. The fundraiser has a $25,000 target.
Having dealt with medical issues herself, MacIntosh said the challenges of navigating healthcare can be immense, including the strain of incurring travel costs out of pocket before reimbursement.
“There’s a huge breakdown in your personal life, your finances, your everything,” she told Cabin Radio.
“In this journey, where there’s a lot of waiting and a lot of questions, or there’s a lot of stress, it really is to their benefit when people step in and offer their love and support – and, if possible, provide financial assistance to help make up for those lost wages.”
Tanya and Savannah Lantz are Chipewyan Dene and members of the Łútsël K’é Dene First Nation.
Tanya is the community outreach coordinator for the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board.
In a note shared with Cabin Radio, Savannah wrote: “Today someone asked me who I was? A warrior, I said. I am a daughter, niece, cousin and proud mama to my dog Elvis. My passion is to help others.”
Savannah studied Indigenous Self-Determination at the Dechinta Centre then Indigenous Studies at the University of Alberta – the same degree obtained by her mother several years prior.
She works as a finance and administration clerk for the GNWT.
Last year, Savannah was set to serve as the NWT delegate for the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York City. However, the event was cancelled due to Covid-19.
Her health issues prevented her participation in a youth training program with the UN’s Canada Services Corps this past January.
MacIntosh described Lantz as “a powerhouse.”
“This girl is educating people,” she said. “She is trying to open eyes and spread the word and let people know, as an Indigenous woman and an Indigenous youth, that she is trying to make a change.
“She’s a mover and shaker. She’s meant to do something, and she’s going to be a force to reckon with. She just needs to deal with this.”
The money raised so far is being used to help the family recover the costs of their first trip to Edmonton for medical testing in January.
MacIntosh hopes the campaign will not only assist Savannah and Tanya financially, but offer moral and emotional support too.
“To have something so scary as a mass in your brain, and to have a biopsy, I can’t even fathom formulating a plan to tackle that one – one, as Savannah, and two, as the mother,” she said.
“I’m really hoping that people can take notice and just say, ‘We see you. We want to embrace you.’
“I absolutely love them, and I just want to see them get through this.”