Claudette Machatis used to live with her father, George Noel, in a house filled with black mould on the Cold Lake First Nations reserve. Machatis moved to Edmonton, where Noel visited her. (Trevor Wilson/CBC) Six more people have come forward with complaints about housing on the northern Alberta reserve of Cold Lake First Nations.
A CBC News report in January showed that Gary Grandbois lives in a shack he says the band gave him 12 years ago, without running water, power or a proper heat source.
Since publication of that story — in which the band said it was only just learning of Grandbois’s situation — nothing has changed for Grandbois and he said there’s no indication any action will be taken.
"If they were going to do something for me, they would have come here to explain to me or help me or something," Grandbois said. Gary Grandbois lives on the Cold Lake First Nations reserve in a shack with no running water, power or proper heat source. (Sam Martin/CBC) In response to a request for an update on Grandbois’s situation, the band said in an email that the housing department will reach out to him "in the next couple of weeks to further discuss his housing situation."
CBC has since spoken to other band members who say they have been struggling to work with the reserve’s leaders to improve their living situations. They believe the reserve, 275 kilometres northeast of Edmonton, has the financial means to address the problems.
"Cold Lake First Nations is deeply concerned about the housing situation in our community," band leadership said in a statement to CBC News. "The safety, health and well-being of our members remains the Nation’s top priority, and we will continue to work diligently toward developing a long-term, sustainable housing solution.
"Cold Lake First Nations has, for many years, experienced a severe lack of funding to substantially address our housing needs. Any substantive solution will require significant new financial support from our federal and provincial counterparts." ‘He can fix his own house’
Dale Jacko, who now lives in Saskatchewan, said the band has had difficulty meeting members’ housing needs for at least a decade.
Jacko said he was hired by the band in 2008 to do housing inspections, reporting to a housing manager.
"I took these inspections back and these reports back to him and I say, ‘OK, this one really, really needs … this elder fellow really needs his house fixed,’ " Jacko recalled saying.
"He said, ‘Eff him. He can fix his own house.’ "
The band said in an email that it is unable to confirm decisions made 10 years ago. Black mould and mice
George Noel showed CBC a 2016 report from an independent inspection that found black mould in his house. "Fungal spores are found everywhere," the report said. An inspection in November 2016 found mould in George Noel’s house. (Trevor Wilson/CBC) Late in 2016, the First Nations Inuit Health Branch did its own inspection of Noel’s home. That report, which was sent to the band office, acknowledges small patches of mould in the basement and around the windows and said there could be more hidden in the walls.
Noel said when the stove was moved a few years ago, ants poured out from behind "like fine red dust … and I have neighbours inside, too — like, you know, mice and stuff like that." Daughter took up fight
Noel, a former band council member, is fighting band leadership over the most recent election in 2016, when he was barred from running for chief.
The court ruled that a judicial review should be permitted because there […]
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