Housing fight on Tobique First Nation leads to standoff
A desperate need for housing on the Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick led to a day-long standoff on Friday.
Five band members who describe themselves as homeless took over a town house complex that's under construction, saying they're tired of waiting for the band council to find them a place to live.
The complex is being built for people who were forced out of their homes after a flood last year.
The complex has no running water, heat or even toilets yet.
Band councillors spent most of the day negotiating with them.
"Out of desperation you know. Frustration and I fully understand that. As a leader it’s really hard to deal with our community members when we have no easy solutions," said band councillor Tina Martin.
Crowds gathered to watch the standoff.
Many in the community said they share the frustration and anger that drove the protesters to take over the unit, but said a standoff wasn’t the way best way to express their anger.
"We don't have housing around here. We don't have money to make houses. We don't have enough houses for people. There [are] families living with families, people living with parents and their kids like me, I've been living with my parents. I have two kids, I'm a single mother, I need a place to live too," said Rachel Sockabasin.
Anna Francis said she was a victim of last year’s flood and has been promised one of the units.
When she heard about the standoff, she decided to take a stand of her own by moving in unofficially.
"So nobody will take it on me, you know? It's one of mine so I got to like go in there before they take it over," she said.
Martin spent much of her day negotiating with the group. Finally around 6 p.m. they agreed to leave.
"It's understandable. Their frustrations, you know, it's been a long day but I'm very pleased and very thankful for the way things have turned out," she said.
Martin said they've come up with a temporary solution for the squatters, but the housing problem persists.