Windsor

Caldwell First Nation shares housing concerns after deadly Oneida fire

The Windsor-Essex First Nation is joining a growing number of Indigenous voices calling for better housing support after a fire killed five family members near London, Ont. last week.

Chief calls housing on reserves 'horrible, sad and awful sub-standard.'

Caldwell First Nation Chief Louise Hillier is concerned the government won't provide enough financial support to build safe housing when the nation builds its first reserve. Her comments come after five family members died in a fire on the Oneida First Nation near London, Ont. (CBC)

The Caldwell First Nation is sharing concerns about what's being called a crisis in housing on reserves after a fire killed five family members near London, Ont. last week.

Louise Hillier is the chief of the First Nation which is trying to establish its first reserve in Leamington. She's concerned the government won't provide the nation with enough funding to build things safely.

"Without the proper resources to construct those homes that are so desperately needed, people are going to be getting something constructed that's not up to code," Hillier explained. "So do you build half a house and let it stand there until you can come up with enough funds to complete it, or do you do the best that you can to put a roof over someone's head that has no roof?"

The chief called the condition of many homes on reserves in Ontario "horrible, sad and awful sub-standard." 

Indigenous leaders share housing concerns after deadly fire

Hillier's comments come after Kurt Antone and his four sons were killed in a house fire on the Oneida Nation of the Thames on Dec. 14. 

During a press conference after the fire Randall Phillips, the nation's chief, said the house the family was living in was old and "basically kindling." He added that most government money for refurbishing homes on reserves in Ontario was sent to northern communities while indigenous groups in the southern parts of the province suffer.

"It's not just a northern issue, we have overcrowding here, we have a lack of housing here," he said of the reserve which roughly 2,000 people call home. "We're one of the largest communities in Ontario yet our funding is based on a formula that's 200 years old."

On Thursday, Ontario's Regional Chief Isadore Day joined the call for more funding for housing on reserves. He echoed Phillip's comments and called on the provincial and federal government to take action.

"Right across Ontario, if you look hard enough you will see dilapidated housing. You'll see substandard infrastructure and you will see poverty," Day said. "What is the action? What is the outcome? Let's start changing the living conditions in our communities and let's start saving lives."

Autopsies on the bodies recovered from the fire are expected to take place Monday. An investigation into the cause of the blaze is ongoing.