Westbank First Nation office. - Google Maps

B.C. woman evicted from home on First Nation land after husband dies

A 64-year-old woman will have to move from her home on WFN lands

A 64-year-old woman who has lived on Westbank First Nation land for the last 25 years will have to leave her home since her husband died and she is not a band member.

Bonnie Alice Watts is a member of the Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation in Ontario and married a member of the WFN, Michael Julian Watts in 1998. They have three adopted children, all members of the WFN and have lived on WFN land since 1995, according to court documents.

In 2016, the pair applied and were accepted to participate in a WFN home ownership program, and spend $20,000 renovating a property before obtaining a residential lease agreement with an option to purchase along with the approval that they could occupy the house, according to the documents.

Watts said the home is important to her because she provided input into the design and construction of the renovations, the property is located within the traditional lands of her husband and she has a strong connection to the WFN community.

After her husband’s death in April 2018, she continued to live on the property and paid rent to the WFN in accordance with the lease agreement.

READ MORE: Westbank First Nation talks implementation branch with Minister Carolyn Bennett

In June she was informed the lease option could not be transferred because the property was WFN community property and was delivered a formal Notice in End Tenancy in November 2018, said court documents.

Watts tried to get an injunction but B.C. Supreme Court Judge Dennis Hori ruled with the WFN.

WFN law states that housing must go to band members, and the option to purchase conditions were not yet fulfilled.

She argued that she has limited means and nowhere else to go if she is evicted. She has lived in the neighbourhood for 15 years and wished to pass the property down to her children.

The judge ruled “there is no evidence that Mrs. Watts could not continue to reside on the traditional territory of her deceased husband. There is no evidence that she could not maintain her connections to the WFN community or that she could not continue to live in the same neighbourhood. In fact, the evidence from the WFN is that there are market value rental properties available on WFN lands and that there are 10,000 non-members currently residing on WFN properties.”

Watts has 30 days to vacate the property.

The WFN has issued a statement in response: “This is an unfortunate situation. WFN feels for and has exercised compassion for those involved. While we cannot comment on personal details of the situation, WFN’s laws were followed in this case, supported by a B.C. Supreme Court ruling. WFN encourages all those who are interested to fully review ruling, which is a public document.”

READ MORE: Westbank First Nation Council approves annual budget

READ MORE: Westbank First Nation building solar rooftop for local school

READ MORE: Historic grad ceremony for Westbank First Nation technicians

@carliberry_
carli.berry@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Vertical dance performance in Kimberley, Labour Day weekend

CAROLYN GRANT On Saturday, August 31, Sunday September 1 and Monday, September… Continue reading

KSSC swimmers qualify for provincials at the Kootenay Regional Swim Meet

Three Kimberley swimmers will move on to the provincial competition.

Fun for kids and adult comedy to close Kaleidoscope

MIKE REDFERN For the Bulletin The Kimberley Kaleidoscope 2019 arts festival taking… Continue reading

East Kootenay Save On Foods stores fundraise for Angel Flight East Kootenay

Kimberley, Cranbrook, Creston, Fernie, Sparwood and Golden stores join together with a goal of $12,000

Tall Pines neighbourhood in Kimberley working towards FireSmart certification

The Tall Pines Strata Council has asked the City for a covenant exemption to remove 13 hazardous trees

Disney Plus to launch in Canada in November

Analysts say latest streaming service may escalate cord cutting

B.C. seizes 1.5M grams contraband tobacco, down from 5.75M grams the year prior

The 2019-2020 seizures were a sharp drop compared to the 2018-2019 year,

B.C. Speaker tight-lipped about legislature security tour

B.C. Liberals question Alan Mullen’s drive across Canada, U.S.

B.C. sets rules for ride hailing, same minimum fee as taxis

Larger operating areas seen as threat by cab companies

Politicians say elections law restricting partisan ads is ‘absurd,’ ‘lunacy’

Election Canada’s choice to cite climate change as a specific example has left environment groups feeling muzzled

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

Okanagan bus driver assaulted for asking patron not to smoke

59-year-old in hospital with non-life threatening injuries

Two hiking families team up to extinguish fire in B.C. backcountry

Children and their parents worked for three hours to ensure safety of the popular hiking region

Most Read