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

VIDEO: Surrey’s former Flamingo Hotel goes out with a bang

The Flamingo opened in July 1955 as a motor hotel with 20 rooms

Rocky Mountain high: Surrey’s Burzan picked in NHL draft by Colorado Avalanche

Guildford-raised forward was out for a drive when he heard the news

Queen Elizabeth students hit $100K in donations to Surrey Hospital Foundation

Secondary students have been raising funds for a decade through the Roots & Rhythms event

City hopes Surrey’s new energy centre will be ‘a window’ into sustainability

Facility’s goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

SQUEEZING SURREY STUDENTS IN: The causes and impacts of overcrowding in city schools

Special series: How growth is affecting students, parents and school staff alike – and what the future holds

Canadian communities responding to climate change

New research highlights state of local adaptation planning in Canada

Victoria woman in L.A. hospital after she was run over twice

Lynn Phillips has suffered from multiple broken bones and internal bleeding

‘Text neck’ causing bone spurs to grow from millennials’ skulls, researchers say

Technology use from early childhood causing abnormal bone growths in 41 per cent of young adults

Woman found after absence from forensic psychiatric hospital in Coquitlam

Barbara Tom was reported on an unauthorized absence from Brookside Treatment Centre

B.C. judge defies lawyers and adds six months to man’s sex assault sentence

‘I find the joint submission is contrary to the public interest and I’m rejecting it’

Tiny Yorkshire terrier survives days on remote B.C. island

ROAM rescue crews, family searched for dog, missing in Greater Victoria for days

Man presumed dead after boat capsizes in Columbia River

Search and rescue efforts recovered a life jacket

Crews fight wildfire along Sea-to-Sky Highway

A cause has not been determined, although a downed power line is suspected

Most Read