This home was built in the ’80s, and Rosa Mantla said she’s been trying to get support to help fix it. (Jamie Malbeuf/CBC) At an open house meeting held in Behchoko this week with N.W.T. cabinet ministers and the premier, one message was clear: residents are concerned about housing.
The open house was a chance for residents to meet with cabinet ministers to talk about any issue they see in the community. And Alfred Moses, the minister in charge of housing, had a line of people waiting to talk to him.
He didn’t have time to talk to everyone; he handed out cards so people could call and send emails with any remaining concerns.
Jane Weyallon didn’t get a chance to talk to the minister. She said she was about 16th on the list. Weyallon said she’s been trying to help her aunt get financial support to help repair her home. (Jamie Malbeuf/CBC) She went to the meeting with her aunt, Rosa Mantla, whose house is in need of repairs.
"It’s cold right now inside, and it’s worse in the wintertime," said Weyallon. "Sometimes the fuel tanks stop working."
When that happens, Mantla uses a wood stove to try and heat the house, but most of the heat escapes.
Weyallon has been trying to get help for her aunt for 10 years. She said she’s been rejected before because she doesn’t have house insurance, but it’s hard to get insurance because she’s an elder on a fixed income.
"At the end people just give up, knowing that they’re not going to get anywhere with any of the programs," said Weyallon. Weyallon said the wood is starting to rot on the side of her aunt’s house. (Jamie Malbeuf/CBC) Johnny Naedzo, a homeless man living in Behchoko, also went to the meeting to talk to the minister about a lack of housing, which he said is the biggest issue in the community.
"I lost my residency at community housing last year when my mom passed away," said Naedzo, who hasn’t had a permanent home in more than a year.
He said many people want to go back to school or get a job so they can move forward in life.
"But lack of housing is keeping them back," said Naedzo.
Right now, he’s upgrading his education at Aurora College and trying to get housing. Since the warming shelter opened in Behchoko, he’s used it for about a week. He said it’s a good place to warm up and get a good meal.
Grand Chief George Mackenzie also went to the meeting. He said he wanted to bring up the issue of education in the communities.
"In our Tlicho region we have education we all know is not up to standard — southern standard," said Mackenzie, who explained Grade 12 students are not graduating with the skills they need.
"The courses they graduate with will not get them into college or university," said Mackenzie.
Weyallon said she’s glad the ministers went to Behchoko, and she’s hoping this won’t be the last time. But she doesn’t think anything is going to change for her and her family anytime soon.Moses made a commitment to go back to the community and work with leadership to find solutions to the housing problem. He’s expected to work with his senior management and Tlicho leadership to figure out what the next steps should be.
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