Even in death, Mi'kmaw woman's housing fight against her First Nation lives on

Even in death, Mi'kmaw woman's housing fight against her First Nation lives on
From CBC - February 13, 2018

The Federal Court of Canada has denied a bid to derail a human rights inquiry into housing on a Cape Breton First Nation, a case that stems from the complaint of an 88-year-old Mi'kmaw woman who died in the midst of her battle with the band.

Wagmatcook First Nation went to court to try to prevent the Canadian Human Rights Commission from referring a complaint about accessible housing to a hearing tribunal. But in a decision released Tuesday, JusticeAlan Diner said the tribunal can proceed.

"I think it's great. It allows the case to move forward the way it should be doing," said Joey Oleson, the son of Annie Olesen, the woman who lodged the human rights complaint.

"It was sort of a last-ditch effort for the band to put an end to the case, which is a very important case for all of Nova Scotia," Joey Oleson said.

In a statement, the Canadian Human Right Commission said it welcomed the judge's ruling and believes Annie Oleson's"story could potentially have a systemic impact on the quality of accessible housing on reserves in Canada."

Annie Oleson lived in a "mini-home" on the Wagmatcook First Nation from about 2007.

But in 2013, because of her deteriorating health, she applied for accessible, barrier-free housing to accommodate her wheelchair. Wagmatcook refused her request.

In legal arguments, the band questioned whether Oleson really needed a wheelchair and argued her existing home would be wheelchair accessible if it were only cleared of clutter.


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