On Oct. 6, Kevin Greene, who was living homeless in Burns Lake, passed away at the age of 47 at the Lakes District Hospital after having heart complications.
Lakes District News spoke to Colete Tanya George, Greene’s common law partner of 14 years, about her account of how the incident transpired.
“He had been feeling pain in his chest for a few days, until we decided enough is enough and we called an ambulance,” she said.
Greene’s official cause of death has yet to be officially determined, though George, who was living homeless with Greene in Burns Lake for more than four months, has questions about the medication and medical treatment provided to him.
George is a member Takla Nation, which is located about 400 km north of Prince George, and now she faces being homeless alone with winter on its way.
A local kind-hearted resident provided George with two nights in a hotel room to grieve. Carrier Sekani Family Services (CSFS), which provides aid for several First Nations including Takla Nation, has now offered her temporary stay in a motel f0llowed by options including the possibility to relocate to another community with housing.
If she remains in Burns Lake, George could possibly be forced to go back to living on the streets once her motel stay ends.
“After this I don’t know what I’m going to do, there’s a few places around that are good for sleeping at night. Right now I can’t even think about that, I just miss my husband,” George said.
“Our whole family is worried about her,” said George’s cousin Lester Abraham, who resides in Burns Lake.
“She has nowhere to go, she’s very depressed, she’s been crying nonstop. When she had Kevin, they could look out for each other, now she’s all on her own. Our family is doing our best to help her but we have a full house and there’s no room for her to live with us.”
“I haven’t gotten any help from anybody [up until now] so it was nice to take a hot shower,” said George.
“I’m not really sure how I’ll be dealing with the weather when it keeps getting colder, I store blankets around town, you just have to wrap yourself with as many blankets, jackets and scarves you can find just to survive every night.”
According to Burns Lake Mayor Dolores Funk, the village is doing its part to help with the need for safe dwelling for the homeless during the winter.
”It’s absolutely heartbreaking to see people without a place to call home and the village has been working with the Six Nations Housing Committee to find a solution,” said Funk.
“Just over a year ago, the village rezoned the Burns Lake Motor Inn to allow for a supportive housing facility. B.C. Housing purchased the property and has submitted plans for the development. All permits were provided in a timely fashion, however, due to many factors, the renovation has not begun. The village spoke with a B.C. Housing representative approximately three weeks ago to get an update. According to their spokesperson, the project will definitely go ahead, it is more of a logistical issue.”
Though the project is still in the early stages, Funk is hopeful that a temporary solution could be coming soon that would at least provide homeless persons in Burns Lake a chance to stay warm for the winter.
“We are now expecting to see an application for a temporary use permit for the motor inn facility come to council. The approval of the permit will allow for homeless persons to be sheltered at the facility during the cold months. Stay tuned,”said Funk.
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