Westbank First Nation office. - Google Maps

B.C. woman evicted from home on First Nation land after husband dies

A 64-year-old woman will have to move from her home on WFN lands

A 64-year-old woman who has lived on Westbank First Nation land for the last 25 years will have to leave her home since her husband died and she is not a band member.

Bonnie Alice Watts is a member of the Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation in Ontario and married a member of the WFN, Michael Julian Watts in 1998. They have three adopted children, all members of the WFN and have lived on WFN land since 1995, according to court documents.

In 2016, the pair applied and were accepted to participate in a WFN home ownership program, and spend $20,000 renovating a property before obtaining a residential lease agreement with an option to purchase along with the approval that they could occupy the house, according to the documents.

Watts said the home is important to her because she provided input into the design and construction of the renovations, the property is located within the traditional lands of her husband and she has a strong connection to the WFN community.

After her husband’s death in April 2018, she continued to live on the property and paid rent to the WFN in accordance with the lease agreement.

READ MORE: Westbank First Nation talks implementation branch with Minister Carolyn Bennett

In June she was informed the lease option could not be transferred because the property was WFN community property and was delivered a formal Notice in End Tenancy in November 2018, said court documents.

Watts tried to get an injunction but B.C. Supreme Court Judge Dennis Hori ruled with the WFN.

WFN law states that housing must go to band members, and the option to purchase conditions were not yet fulfilled.

She argued that she has limited means and nowhere else to go if she is evicted. She has lived in the neighbourhood for 15 years and wished to pass the property down to her children.

The judge ruled “there is no evidence that Mrs. Watts could not continue to reside on the traditional territory of her deceased husband. There is no evidence that she could not maintain her connections to the WFN community or that she could not continue to live in the same neighbourhood. In fact, the evidence from the WFN is that there are market value rental properties available on WFN lands and that there are 10,000 non-members currently residing on WFN properties.”

Watts has 30 days to vacate the property.

The WFN has issued a statement in response: “This is an unfortunate situation. WFN feels for and has exercised compassion for those involved. While we cannot comment on personal details of the situation, WFN’s laws were followed in this case, supported by a B.C. Supreme Court ruling. WFN encourages all those who are interested to fully review ruling, which is a public document.”

READ MORE: Westbank First Nation Council approves annual budget

READ MORE: Westbank First Nation building solar rooftop for local school

READ MORE: Historic grad ceremony for Westbank First Nation technicians

@carliberry_
carli.berry@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Give Hope Wings fundraiser launches Saturday from Pitt Meadows

Flying marathon will benefit low income Canadians needing flights for medical treatment

Global 6K for Water held in Maple Ridge

Fundraiser benefits World Vision water projects

Kidney donor honoured by city committee

Maple Ridge realtor received surprise award

COLUMN: Enjoy your own artistic expression

Who cares if your work doesn’t belong in the Louvre

Car Free Day and more on Father’s Day

Things to do in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows this weekend

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

Pride flag taken down by Township of Langley

Woman said she was told it was removed from her front yard because of a complaint

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

Cyclists competing in one of the toughest bike races on the planet pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

Most Read