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Women's rights activists laud UN ruling against N.W.T. government

Activists celebrate a United Nations ruling against the N.W.T. government as a victory for aboriginal women.

Ruling seen to strengthen legal rights for aboriginal women

Women's rights activists relieved by victory in legal battle with the Northwest Territories government. (CP PHOTO/Chuck Stoody)

Women's rights activists are calling a recent United Nations ruling against the Northwest Territories government a victory for aboriginal women across the country.

A UN committee ruled the territorial housing corporation discriminated against Cecilia Kell  when they let her non-aboriginal, abusive husband claim their Behchoko. N.W.T., home.

When Kell filed court action against her partner and the government, her case was dismissed because she couldn't pay legal fees.

Kell's longtime friend Arlene Hache said it’s been a long road, but both women got the ruling they had been looking for.

"It was a huge relief," Hache said. "And an incredible ending to years of advocacy and looking for any kind of sense that there was justice out there for people that were so marginalized, so discriminated against."

Hache said the ruling should mean better legal services for aboriginal woman across the country.

"It really speaks to the fact that aboriginal women don't have access to legal services that are appropriate or effective," she said.

"They don't know how to access those services. That is really what Cecilia Kell fought for, that more aboriginal women don't end up in the same place she did," Hache said.

The UN ruling recommends that the territorial government give Kell a home and pay damages. It also says more aboriginal women should be trained to work in legal aid and there should be a review of the entire legal aid system.