Brantford family gets help, but still homeless
Published Tuesday, July 10, 2012 6:17PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 10, 2012 7:01PM EDT
A family whose plans to build a dream home were halted by the discovery of human remains is getting some help from the province.
Habiba Ahmed has a full-time job, but she and her family remain homeless and continue to be mired in debt after the discovery of an ancient native burial ground.
In January, construction crews began work at the planned site of their new home on Oxbow Road, only to discover the human remains.
“I know I’ve taken a lot of heat for that, people saying, ‘You should have known, it’s a high archaeological area,’ [but] there’s a house not even 400 feet from where I’m building,” Ahmed says.
Unfortunately, the discovery came after she had sold her old home, and now her family is living in her parents’ basement.
Under the Cemeteries Act, the family was forced to pay for an archaeological investigation.
The first estimate for the investigation was $15,000, and at that amount she was denied assistance for undue financial hardship.
But once the bill climbed to $38,000, the cemeteries registrar finally reconsidered their decision, and the province is now picking up the tab for the investigation.
That still leaves Ahmed with legal fees alone around $25,000-$30,000.
It’s now up to the elected council of Haudenosaunee Six Nations and the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation to come up with a resolution.
Arron Detlor of the Haudenosaunee Development Institute says the best thing would be for the province to compensate the family, then the Six Nations would take care of the remains and designate the site as a cemetery, halting future developments.
“It’s much more cost effective for the province, it’s cost effective for the county, it’s cost effective for Habiba’s family and it respects our ancestors.”
Brant MPP Dave Levac recently sent a letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty suggesting a land swap between the province and family, but says he is sensitive to First Nations’ needs.
“I just floated an idea and I’m hoping they would give consideration to all the options on the table.”
At this point, Ahmed says she’ll be happy with any way out, as long as the family has a roof over their heads.
“You have to get us out of the middle. We’re a family of six people that are living on the street, with what used to be a dream, shattered.”
Detlor says Six Nations is hoping to find a fair resolution for the land with the next two to three weeks.