A homeless woman is standing strong despite facing thousands of dollars in fines for attempting to build a home in the town where she grew up.
About 400 kilometers northwest of Thunder Bay lies the original reserve of the Ojibways of Saugeen First Nation, where Darlene Necan, 55, has been denied housing despite being a member of the community.
Necan took matters into her own hands about a year ago, when she started building a house where her family’s old home once stood in Savant Lake, Ontario. Since then, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has been charging Necan up to a whopping $10,000 worth in fines for breaching the Public Lands Act along with an extra $1,000 for every time she is caught adding to her fortress.
“This is my castle and I’m so proud to have it,” Necan told CBC News.
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Because Savant Lake is an unorganized township, it lacks a municipal leader. Dennis Mousseau, owner of one of the town’s main roads and its only store, does not understand the reasoning behind the Ministry of Natural Resource’s actions.
“It’s a common thing for First Nations people to do, is build their own house without title to the land,” Mousseau told CBC News. “First Nations people have the right to do that and I don’t see why (the Ministry of) Natural Resources should be hassling over this.”
Necan believes the reason behind the hassling is that her homeland became Crown land. Still, she continues to fight for her castle.
“I still keep going with this fight no matter how awful it makes me feel for trying to house myself and help people,” she told CBC News. “... A lot of people don’t believe in themselves or that things can change if you fight hard enough.”
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Necan says she has been calling out for the aid of Edward Machimity, who's been chief for almost two decades, to no avail.
“He said that he has to be careful about how he helps the off-reserve people and that really got me confused because I thought, aren’t we on Anishinaabe land right now? Aren’t we under treaty? Isn’t this why we elected him for, is to help all people, not only the people inside reserve?” Necan said.
CBC News has also reached out to Machimity but he did not return the phone calls.
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