'It's pretty darn cold in here': Broken window casts a chill over N.W.T. woman's COVID-19 isolation

·3 min read
Annie Thrasher in a file photo from 2017. Thrasher says she's been waiting for four months for the window in her Yellowknife public housing unit to be fixed. (Curtis Mandeville/CBC - image credit)
Annie Thrasher in a file photo from 2017. Thrasher says she's been waiting for four months for the window in her Yellowknife public housing unit to be fixed. (Curtis Mandeville/CBC - image credit)

Annie Thrasher pulls aside a blanket she's hung up in front of her window to keep out drafts. Behind it, an empty frame opens out into the yard, obscured by a couple pieces of wood.

Thrasher lives in a ground floor Yellowknife apartment in a Northview building with her adult sons. The window of the public housing unit she lives in was broken on June 28, and she's had no luck getting it repaired. Northview put some boards over it, but cold air still blows steadily into her apartment.

She documented the issue in a video on Oct. 3. Now, to make matters worse, she and her family just got diagnosed with COVID-19, and she worries winter will set in for good before the window can be fixed.

"It's urgent now because we're all isolating at home and it's pretty darn cold in here," Thrasher said.

April Hudson/CBC
April Hudson/CBC

She's currently isolating in her cold apartment. Speaking to the CBC, she described having cold feet in the middle of the day.

Once her isolation ends, she doesn't have the option of living somewhere else if the window isn't fixed by winter — she said she and her children have nowhere else to go.

"I don't want my kids to be homeless."

Thrasher said she has put in frequent calls to the YK Housing Authority, which falls under the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation, but nothing is being done even though her son is the one who will pay for the repair.

She also suffers from asthma, and says she's prone to pneumonia. She's leery of visiting the hospital because of her COVID-19 diagnosis, and she's waiting to hear back from public health. In the meantime, she's keeping the heat on in her home and she has a space heater running. That only does so much when temperatures drop below zero at night, though.

"It does get windy and you can feel the draft on the floor," she said.

"We have to isolate (until) the 27th, and by then it will be a lot colder and our window's still not fixed."

Thrasher said as an Indigenous person and Inuvialuit, she does question whether the issue would have been fixed sooner if she was a different race, though she doesn't like to think about that.

"I don't know. It makes me wonder ... it feels very odd for them not to fix it in four months," she said.

"In the 1950s, it would be OK to have a boarded window. But it's 2021 — you just can't, especially if you're paying rent. It's so unfair."

Frame Lake MLA Kevin O'Reilly, who is Thrasher's MLA, said in an email he wasn't familiar with Thrasher's situation but it would be an "unacceptable situation" if it hasn't been resolved.

Several media requests from CBC to the housing corporation went unanswered, and Housing Minister Paulie Chinna was not available for an interview. CBC also reached out to YK Housing Authority CEO Bob Bies, but did not hear back.

Northview, which owns the apartment building, was also unavailable for an interview.

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