Elder, 76, looking for help to stay warm in Alberta

For the past seven winters, the leaky windows and doors that are supposed to seal Yvonne’s Anderson’s house have left her shivering.

“I have to use blankets on the doors. If I have to use a blanket in my bedroom I will use it because it’s cold. This morning the floors were cold,” Anderson told APTN News.

The fix will cost a cool $10,000 and Anderson is hoping her band will help her pay to replace them in her home in Grimshaw, Alta.

Her friend, Dave Banack, is a contractor in the small town of Grimshaw.

He and Yvonne took APTN on a tour of the house to show what needs to be replaced.

There is a lot.

Built in the 1940s or early 50s, the house still has the original windows.

“The picture windows have the seals broken. The trims on them are as old as the house.

“The windows in the basement are aluminum sliders about as cold as you can get any window to be…and still be a window.” Banack said.

Anderson is a single mother and grandmother. She lives on a pension and said she cannot afford to pay what’s needed to make her house comfortable once more.

She said her family is not in a position to help.

“I don’t have any extra money. My house, truck insurance and all that, food, lights, gas, water. By the time you finish paying all of that, what do you have?

Not very much,” said Anderson.

She has written letters to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney to ask for help.

The prime minister’s office forwarded her letter to the office of Indigenous Services.

Indigenous Services said they are looking into her letter.

The Alberta government told APTN they informed Anderson about a program giving loans to seniors for house repairs.

The loan is for nearly four per cent, and Anderson says she does not want a lien put on her house.

Anderson is from the Dene Tha First Nation.

She said she has asked leadership for financial assistance.

She was told that because she lives off-reserve, there is no help available.

Anderson said her band should support people living off reserve.

”This is why I’m asking if I can get help from my reserve,” she said. “They counted us when they go through the government, our heads are counted for and I want to know where the money is.

“I feel like this is discrimination they are doing to us.”

Phone calls and emails to Chief James Ahnassay have not been returned as of this writing.

Banack told APTN that unfortunately, Anderson is not alone in living in unacceptable conditions.

”It’s time somebody steps up to the plate and realizes that this is a national problem not just Yvonne’s,” he said. “Not just the town of Grimshaw.

“It’s right across the province, and right across the country.”

As each day gets colder, Anderson waits and hopes for someone to help her.

Winter is coming.

Video Journalist / Edmonton

Chris Stewart has been in the media for 20 years. He has worked at CBC, Global and CTV as a news camera operator and editor. Chris joined APTN in 2012 in the Saskatoon Bureau and moved to APTN Edmonton bureau in 2015 as a Videojournalist.