Organizers say more than 200 people packed the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto this weekend for an event benefiting Darlene Necan.
Necan is a member of the Ojibways of Saugeen First Nation and is currently homeless.
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The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has charged Necan with breaches of the Public Lands Act for attempting to build a home for herself in Savant Lake, Ont. on land where her family home once stood.
"I felt overwhelmed," Necan said of the support she received at the benefit. "Normally I'm not like a real crybaby but I had to let my tears [fall] yesterday because I was so overwhelmed."
"It was a lot of things balled in in my heart that I felt so thankful for. But then I was scared at the same time because I felt like maybe I might be judged — what I'm saying and what I'm doing — because I've lived like that in my own home area where I'm always being criticized [and] put down," she said. "So that stayed with me, this mentality as I came here."
"But when I saw all the [International League of People's Struggles] ILPS people that helped me prior with the cabin building, they were all there and I just felt so happy."
The Saturday night event was co-organized by the CUPE 3903 First Nations Solidarity Working Group.
Laura Lepper of the group said members got to know Necan two years ago when she spoke at a conference organized by the ILPS.
When they heard of her struggle, they took action to help, she said.
"What was powerful about last night was the way that people came together," Lepper added. "And the fact that 200 people came there and stood in solidarity and said that they supported Darlene building her own home on her land."
She said organizers are still tallying the amount raised.