She had to come up with an alternative to freezing to death. You'd think they'd be cheering her on for being resourceful and coming up with a fantastic solution. Right?
Darlene lives in a remote part of northern Ontario, Canada. She's homeless and it's the middle of winter. Did I mention it's minus 22 degrees Celsius? She struggled after her son died by suicide and has been without a home for years. She doesn't want charity — just a chance to be independent ... and warm.
She could easily freeze to death in that weather, but Darlene came up with a very resourceful solution. She got some donated materials and built herself a home.
She should be applauded right? Nope, she was charged.
Yep, the Ontario government has ordered her to stop building her "one-room cabin," which is about the size of a typical living room. Theytold her that it's Crown (government) land.
As a First Nations woman, she grew up on that land and doesn't understand why she can't still live there. Neither do I.
What's even more amazing about Darlene is that she helped build a cabin for another homeless person before she built her own. The homeless elder she helped had been living in a chicken coop when she got frostbite on her toes.
Maybe the government should put their focus on the First Nations housing crisis — or at least not prevent Darlene from finding solutions.
Before you're too hard on the government, they did offer a suggestion.
They told Darlene she could "buy" the land. You know, with all that extra money she has. (I hope politicians get sarcasm.)
The word is spreading, and many people are seeing Darlene as a hero. Her supporters have written the Ontario premier, asking her to visit Darlene.
Maybe Premier Kathleen Wynne should spend a week up there with her. I'm sure it would be eye-opening.
In Darlene's own words, "where do we fit in, in our own land?What [does the government] want us to do?" First Nations homelessness has reached epidemic proportions.
In the city closest to where Darlene lives, Thunder Bay, over half of the homeless people are aboriginal. In Yellowknife, Canada, First Nations make up 95% of the homeless.
Maybe the politicians will ponder that as they lay in their cozy beds tonight. People like Darlene could use their help. Give her options.