Poverty in The NorthWest Territories…the aftermath of a fire.

A family in Fort Resolution, N.W.T., is still struggling to get back on its feet after a fire destroyed their house and took the life of 16-year-old Rhoni Beaulieu.

Beaulieu’s grandmother, Cecile Lafferty, says they haven’t found a permanent place to live since they lost their home in mid-August.

With no money, no insurance and no work she and her partner have been living in a tent on family property.

“We’ve been living here in a tent for about a month and a half but it got too cold so we’re staying with my mother-in-law, but we spend most of our time in the tent.” Lafferty says.

“I don’t want to invade my mother-in-law’s privacy cause she’s been living alone for years.”

Cecile Lafferty
Cecile Lafferty outside a tent she has been living since a fire in mid-August took the life of her granddaughter and destroyed their home. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Lafferty says they have been to see a housing officer and were offered a spot in the seniors’ centre. They turned it down because she says she’s not that old and it’s too small. She’s expecting another granddaughter to come live with them early in the New Year.

Lafferty believes there are units in the community big enough for them.

“They told us we’re not eligible for a two bedroom and that’s all there is around here. There’s a lot of other people in town living in two bedroom houses, they’re single themselves,” Lafferty says.

The manager of Strategic Planning, Policy & Communications for the N.W.T. Housing Corporation, Revi Lau-a, says he can’t speak to specific cases because of privacy. But he says in Fort Resolution there is one unit that is being filled soon and another for which the corporation is currently seeking tenants.

“From the information that I have, that there are just a handful of units in Fort Resolution that might be vacant due to renovation,” Lau-a says.

He says the housing corporation steps in sometimes after emergencies.

“We have, where available, should we have a vacant home ownership unit or market housing unit. We have made those available on a temporary basis,” Lau-a says.

In the aftermath of the fire $13,000 and household items were donated to get the family back on its feet. Lafferty says she bought furniture with that money and it’s all sitting in storage.


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