I guess I should start by explaining how me and my son ended up in the situation we are currently in where we are stranded in Louisiana, about to become homeless and have received no help from my home country of Canada.

On December 18th, 2020 I lost the love of my life, my husband of almost 19 years, and the father of our 18 year old son A.J., Jacob Albert. My husband was a proud Southern man and who was born in Mississippi and raised in both Mississippi and Louisiana. Anthony (AJ) and I are Canadian citizens, both born in Nova Scotia. My husband and I met online over 20 years ago, when we met in person, we fell in love, we got married and we had the most beautiful baby boy. Jake did move to Canada for awhile but about 10 years ago he received a job offer down here in Louisiana, he had family here, a sister and his father, so we packed up and made the move. Our live was not easy but we made it work, he was my rock, he was Mr. Fix-it, whenever things went crazy he would say “I got this babe” and he did, he always found a way to make things work. We had started the process of getting my immigration paperwork but due to a lot of setbacks we didn’t get it finished, we had decided to wait to get AJ his SSN until he was 18 so that he could maintain a duel citizenship. Our lives changed drastically when Jake lost his job in March of 2020 due to a rumor he had come in contact with Covid. When he lost his job we lost our mortgage insurance, as we could not afford the payments, we also lost our life and health insurance. We thought once the pandemic was over Jake would find another job and we would simply refinance our mortgage after the Covid assistance program ended.

Jake was a diabetic, this was caused by damage done to his pancreas due to an infected gallbladder, but to look at him you would have thought he was in perfect health. On December 18th he was busy, we were selling crafts to make ends meet and on that day he went outside to measure a pipe for a busted water line, 5 minutes later he yelled to our son to come help him. I thought he needed help with measuring the pipe but he had passed out, my son yelled for me to call an ambulance as Jake had stopped breathing and he started CPR. No more than 5 minutes later the paramedics showed up but they could not revive him. They rushed him to the hospital and our neighbor came over and drove me and AJ to the hospital. When we arrived we were ushered into a small room, a few minutes or to me an eternity later, two doctors came in and began asking questions, I stopped them and asked where Jake was, they finally told me he was gone. My son never missed a beat, he hugged me and said “I got this Mom, we will get through this”. That was not only the day I lost my husband but the day my son lost his childhood. He was in his last year of high school, looking forward to graduating, starting college, enjoying his last year of relative freedom, and it was gone, all our plans were gone.

We were left destitute, we only a few hundred dollars in the bank, I could not even afford to bury Jake, his father paid for his cremation for us. I was scared, I had no family here, not really any friends as we kept to ourselves, the three amigos we called ourselves. All of my family live in Nova Scotia, I had lost my dad about 5 years before Jake and my mom passed in March of 2020. I do have two sisters, one who lives in Halifax and one who lives in North Sydney but they can not come here due to work and because of the strict covid rules that are still happening. They started a gofund me page to help raise money for us to get home, we raised only about 4 thousand dollars, not enough to rent a U- haul and pay for gas and motels to drive home.

Our lives have become the perfect storm after Jake passed, our central A/C was hit by lightening but the insurance company refused to pay as they said we couldn’t prove it. Things in our house began failing, a light fixture here, washer, dryers, the car my husband used, our planer that we used to make crafts, it was just one thing after another. Four months after Jake passed his father also passed and AJ lost another person in his life. Add to this the Canadian border was closed so we could not go home even if we had a way there, we reached out the both the Prime Minister and the Premier as I told you and was told the Prime Minister does not involve himself in personal matters. The Premiers office simply replied to my emails with generic Covid related information. My in laws helped us for awhile with paying bills but for the last 10 months I have been living off of the little bit of money I make selling crafts and the money in the Gofund me page. On top of all of this we also got hit with a Hurricane (seriously, if not for the fact I am living this nightmare I would not believe it myself), during the hurricane we lost our generator as it was flooded with water, we lost tools, we lost food, we spent a week without any power, it was a nightmare and because I do not have a SSN I could not even apply for FEMA. My house deductible was too high to make a claim worthwhile so we simply had to eat our losses. To make matters worse we then lost an uncle, an aunt and recently a cousin. We also lost our beloved fur baby who became ill with kidney stones. it has been a never ending roller coaster though hell but we still had hope.

When we found out that the borders were open again we got so very excited, especially when we also found out we could get the Covid vaccine here for free as Canada would not allow us to cross the border without it. My sisters can’t take time off of work to come all the way here to pick us up but my sister in law has come to the rescue. She offered for her and her husband to drive us to the border, they cannot cross the border as they do not have the vaccines. I reached out to my sister again but was told that due to the fact her and her husband do not get a lot of time off together and that my brother in law does not like to drive U-hauls they would not be able to do this. Once again my spirits were crushed. We are running out of time, our Covid assistance program has ended and we are now waiting for the foreclosure papers to show up. Once that happens we will be on the streets as we do not have anywhere to go. But again my sister in law came through, she had reached out to the Freemasons fraternity, as her husband is a member, and they had found two men who were willing to drive to the border to meet them and drive us into the country. These strangers are going to go out of their way to help someone they did not know simply out of the goodness in their hearts. I again reached out to my sister as we would need a place to stay, she however told us that because we have pets she would not be able to take us in and advised us to call the welfare office. I did this and was told that because we do not live in Nova Scotia they could not help us. I again called the Premier’s office and this time a woman from the housing department called me, she said she would look into it and email or call me back, that was on November 16th and we have not heard a word from her. When I had told her about the replies from the Premiers office she simply chuckled and said, “yes, that happens”. I was so upset, the lack of compassion was astounding.

I decided to contact the consulates office at the number provided to me from the Prime Minister’s office to see if they could help. I got the idea from a representative from the Louisiana state department who had reached out to my on behalf of my brother in law and she told me that unfortunately due to the fact that I am Canadian she could not intervene, but she told me if the situation was reversed she would have tried to get us home and if they could not she would have reached out to other organizations or the public to see if any assistance could be found there. When I mentioned this to the person on the phone from the Canadian consulate office they told me “well, this is not the USA”. When I also mentioned that I had seen the Premier on TV helping out refugees with emergency housing as well as food, and financial assistance she told me that because I was Canadian citizen I was not entitled to those benefits. Again, my hopes were dashed. So at this point we are running out of money and time, I cannot cross the border because I have no one who is willing or able to take us in and we do not have an address or a place to stay.

I wait each day for the sheriff to show up and tell us to pack up and get out. I worry about what will happen to us if we end up on the street as I have CHF, I am terrified about what will happen to my son if he is left to fend for himself on the streets of New Orleans, I have heard horror stories about homeless people and I never thought I would ever be one.

I know all of this sounds like it is too much but honestly, I have come to terms with the fact that I maybe homeless, that I will never again own a home, or pay for my son’s college and have to start over again alone, but what bothers me the most of all of this is that I feel I have completely and utterly failed as a Mom. I have always prided myself on one thing, that we were good parents, we always provided our son with a roof over his head, food in his belly and he has gotten almost everything he ever wanted. He is a great kid, smart and hard working (he helps me with my crafts as he cannot work without a SSN) he has a heart the size of Texas and compassion and empathy that would rival Mother Teresa herself. Since his father died this kid, oh boy howdy, this kid has stepped up in ways that makes me so very very proud. He never asks for anything because he knows we do not have money, and he never complains about working with me or doing a lot of the manly things his father did. Whenever I get down I get the “don’t worry mom I got your back, we will get through this together, it is you and me against the world”. If you are a parent you will understand the fear and worry I have for him, it is hard when each night that he gives me a kiss and tells me he loves me before he goes to bed that I wonder how much longer I can provide him a bed to sleep in. How much longer can I feed him and keep him safe. My one job in life is to protect my child from everything, and I have failed him so terribly in that regard. He knows what is going on and yet he keeps my spirits up by telling me the worse Dad jokes ever, and he does everything I ask with a smile. He has lost so much, his dad, his best friend, his fishing buddy, my father, his poppa, who he adored, his nanny, my mom who he loved beyond measure, as well as one of the links he had to his dad, his grandfather, Jake's dad, He never got to go to his graduation because I could not afford the gown rental, he never gets to go out with his friends to the movies or lunch, unless they pay, and I cannot. He asked for nothing this year for Christmas except for us to watch stupid movies and spend time together. I love this kid to the moon and back and I have let him down. I sometimes catch him staring at pictures of his dad, crying softly, but he tries to hide it from me because he doesn’t want to upset me, because of all that has gone on we have not had the chance to grieve for Jake, we have not be able to take the time to really express our feelings as I am afraid once I let my guard down the dam will break, and I will fall to pieces, something I cannot afford to do right now. This is why I am reaching out to your site to try to help raise funds enough to pay for a Uhaul in order for us to take our belongings and our pets with us. As well as raise enough to be able to get some sort of housing or even a camper that we can live in as again, it appears no one in Canada is willing or able to help.

Sorry this is so long but believe it or not, I left a lot out, I could write a book about this last year.

Thank you to anyone who takes the time to read my story and God Bless each of you.

Carmel Albert