North

Mother of 3 fed up with pot smoke seeping into apartment

A single mother raising three children in Yellowknife feels alone in her fight to keep the smell of marijuana from drifting into her family’s apartment in a multi-unit building.

'I want this place to be a drug-free place. I want it to stop,' says Hye Paulette

'My family and my kids are being affected by it regularly,' says Hye Paulette of the marijuana smoke seeping into her family's Yellowknife apartment. (CBC)

A single mother raising three children in Yellowknife feels alone in her fight to keep the smell of marijuana from drifting into her family's home.

Hye Paulette says she first began smelling the pungent odour in the apartment this summer. She said marijuana smoke often wafts into the living room through open windows and doors, and into the bathroom through the walls.

"My family and my kids are being affected by it regularly," Paulette said.

"I want this place to be a drug-free place."

Paulette has made multiple complaints to the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation and has asked RCMP to investigate where the smell is coming from, but feels she is being passed back and forth between the organizations.

Hye Paulette lives in the Bison Estates complex in Yellowknife. When it comes to secondhand marijuana smoke, she says families' space 'needs to be respected when living in multi-unit dwellings.' (CBC)

"Both parties say keep putting complaints through, but none of them say there is going to be any steps taken," Paulette said.

"I don't think they see it as very important and that they have other things to do."

Paulette said RCMP did knock on doors at Bison Estates, but the officer was not able to get anyone to fess up to smoking marijuana.

She said police repeatedly told her that the drug would soon be legal.

"He probably said it about a good three or four times, but to me that's not valid. It's illegal right now."

RCMP declined a CBC News interview request.

In an email, a RCMP spokesperson wrote, "The RCMP responds to complaints and enforces the laws of Parliament where there is evidence to support a charge."

Another frustrated resident

Michael Mohammed is in a similar situation. He's lived in downtown Yellowknife for about a year and says this summer marijuana smoke drifted through his apartment window weekly.

"A soon as I've got a window open, there are people outside and there are people smoking dope," Mohammed said.

He took to Facebook on Sunday to vent his frustration at still not being able to get fresh air, even in November.

'Oh, Yellowknife... It may be -4C out, but I can't open a window without smelling secondhand pot smoke,' Michael Mohammed posted to Facebook on Sunday. (Facebook)

Mohammed said RCMP are reluctant to respond to his complaints until 11 p.m., when the loitering behind his apartment could be considered a public disturbance.

He said he doesn't blame the RCMP for putting its resources into more pressing matters, but he would like to see more community policing in Yellowknife.

"I would like to see a heavier police presence so people are discouraged from loitering around buildings and behind buildings," he said.

Mohammed has lived in Ottawa, Iqaluit, and central New Jersey. He said he never came across people smoking marijuana in public in the Nunavut capital.

"In terms of public substance abuse, this is the worse place I have ever lived," he said. 

"I am getting the hell out of this town as quickly as I can."

'We’re making posters to raise awareness for what would make a safe home for children,' says Caona (right), daughter of Hye Paulette (centre). (CBC)

Making posters

In lieu of action from authorities, Paulette also took to Facebook with her complaint. On Tuesday, her son and two daughters decorated the apartment building with anti-drug posters.

"It's not something I like to smell… It's just kind of there and you can't do anything about it," said Symone Paulette, 11.

"We're making posters to raise awareness for what would make a safe home for children," said Caona Paulette, 17.

"I feel like it is pretty normal for people to just ignore [the smell]... I think our posters are something people will notice."

Symone Paulette, 11, puts up an anti-drug poster in her family's apartment building. (submitted by Hye Paulette)

The poster were taken down the following morning.  

Despite that, Paulette said since the Facebook post, the smell of marijuana has not yet returned to the apartment.

Paulette said she will continue to fight for a drug-free home, and has no intention of moving.

"This is our home. This is our space. It just needs to be respected when living in multi-unit dwellings," Paulette said.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.