Nova Scotia

Wagmatcook senior fights for better home on reserve

An 84-year-old woman in Wagmatcook First Nation says she can't move around her own home now that she's in a wheelchair and she wants the band council to give her a more accessible home.

Annie Oleson, 84, wants a new home that's more wheelchair accessible

Annie Oleson and her granddaughter, Naomi, at their home in Wagmatcook. (Joan Weeks/CBC)

An 84-year-old woman in Wagmatcook First Nation says she can't move around her own home now that she's in a wheelchair and she wants the band council to give her a more accessible home.

Annie Oleson lives with two sons and a granddaughter in a mobile home given to them by the Wagmatcook band council a few years ago.

Oleson said it was great at first, but now she can barely walk and her wheelchair won't go through the bathroom or bedroom doors. She said she's fallen three times since she began using her wheelchair.

"As I get older, I feel weaker and I have to holler for somebody to come," she said. "I have to hang on and I'm afraid I'll fall."

Norman Bernard, the chief of Wagmatcook First Nation, said the band offered Oleson a new one-storey home with a wheelchair ramp, but the family refused it.

Oleson's son said the home is in a bad neighborhood.

Brian Arbuthnot, the band manager, said with news of Oleson's deteriorating health she's been put on a priority list for housing — along with approximately 30 other residents in need.

"It's a very difficult process when you've got people living in basements with small kids and they have no access. The only access out of their house is through the main door," said Arbuthnot.

"We've got to be cognizant of every band member that lives in the community."

He said the band simply does not get enough money from the federal government to keep up with the demand for housing.

"We have a couple of units per year, which is not very good considering we have 25 to 30 people on a waiting list," Arbuthnot said.

"Part of the problem is we have a lot of families living together in one home, multigenerational and we are trying to accommodate both elders and this growing population of youth who have children and who are looking for housing."

Arbuthnot said Oleson should know about her housing status by late March.

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