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

Coming up in Cowichan: MS Bike this weekend; Easter Seals Camp Shawnigan

MS Bike is personal for Heather Armstrong MS Ambassador Heather Armstrong has… Continue reading

Why I am riding for Hospice

Cycle of Life Tour coming this weekend

Lake Flashback: Problem tubers on the river, coliform closes Duck Pond, and a timely whale rescue in Nitinat Lake

Plus this week: special newlyweds from 1979, and a unique idea for island garbage

VIDEO: CVRD already hard at work on climate change issues, Morrison tells One Cowichan

‘Not only is our rubber on the road, we’re up to speed!’ CVRD chair answers climate action critics

VIDEO: Sod-turning for $10 million Cowichan Hospice House a joyful event

A happy crowd gathered near Cairnsmore Place to celebrate the arrival of Hospice House

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs have been sold

Victoria company has purchased BCHL team, but will keep it in Port Alberni

“Does Kirby care?” B.C. First Nation’s group using geo-targeted ads in Houston, Texas for justice

The Heiltsuk Tribal Council has called out Kirby Corporation for the Nathan E. Stewart oil spill

Trudeau announces $79M investment for 118 more public transit buses across B.C.

Contributions from municipal to federal level to fund more buses in a bid to cut commutes

B.C. woman wins record $2.1 million on casino slot machine

‘That night was so surreal … I wasn’t able to sleep or eat for the first two days,’ she said

After B.C. dad’s death, Technical Safety BC wants changes to trampoline park rules

Jay Greenwood, 46, did ‘a series of acrobatic manoeuvres prior to a fall that caused serious injury and cardiac arrest’

Cars keyed on BC Ferries after alarms bother dog on board

Delta police arrested one passenger on suspicion of mischief

$900M settlement reached in class action on sexual misconduct in Canadian military

After facing criticism, the government moved to begin settlement proceedings in early 2018

Most Read