Family rejoices at news that flood-displaced elder will get replacement home

·3 min read
Laura Sanguez, front, sits in her wheelchair outside the long-term care facility in Fort Simpson, surrounded by her family on her 83rd birthday. From left, they are Vicky Gargan-Norwegian, Tiffany Gargan, Cindy Gargan and Stella Nadia. (Cindy Gargan - image credit)
Laura Sanguez, front, sits in her wheelchair outside the long-term care facility in Fort Simpson, surrounded by her family on her 83rd birthday. From left, they are Vicky Gargan-Norwegian, Tiffany Gargan, Cindy Gargan and Stella Nadia. (Cindy Gargan - image credit)

After months of living in long-term care in Fort Simpson, N.W.T., an elder from Jean Marie River will be returning to her home community in the spring — and her daughter says she's dreaming of the day she can taste her mom's bannock again.

Elder Laura Sanguez's family issued a plea in September for help to move Sanguez back into Jean Marie River. Her home was destroyed by floodwaters in May, and she had lived in a state of uncertainty ever since — not knowing when, or if, a replacement home would be coming.

Sanguez's daughter, Stella Nadia, told CBC that the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs called her after her mom's story went public.

"They showed me a house plan, and that's when reality kicked in that we are, in fact, getting a new home. I brought it to her and she had tears in her eyes — she was just in disbelief," Nadia said.

Sanguez, who is in a wheelchair, will receive a two-bedroom modular home with some specific accessibility alterations to meet her needs.

"They're widening the doors, and I specifically asked for a shower where I could just push her in … They're really doing all they can to accommodate us," Nadia said.

The replacement home is expected to arrive sometime in February or March. It'll take a bit of time to set up, and Nadia said she expects Sanguez to be able to move in after the ice on the Mackenzie River breaks.

Nadia will move in with her mother to take care of her.

Starting from scratch

When the flood destroyed Sanguez's home in May, it destroyed nearly all her belongings, too.

Nadia spoke to the CBC while on a trip to Yellowknife, where she was picking up towels and some things for when the new home arrives.

"Her and I, we're starting right from scratch. So what we'll do is we'll just buy what we need to start off, and then eventually get everything else, we hope," she said.

Nadia said Sanguez's old home in Jean Marie River is set to be torn down next week, and the foundation will be laid for the new home.

It's sad to see the home she grew up in — and where her mom spent most of her life — demolished, but Sanguez has asked for the replacement home to go on the same property, lifted up in case of future floods.

And while Nadia treasures the memories made in that home, like birthdays, Christmases and Mother's Days, she and her mom are eager to start making new memories in the new home.

"Her dream is to eventually go home and be able to make the bannock and dry meat," she said.

That's a dream Nadia shares, with fond memories of the foods Sanguez has cooked in the past.

"She made a beautiful home for us," Nadia recalled. "I'm so looking forward to a new home with my mom."

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