Monthly Archives: June 2011

I’m moving to a new “environmentally sensitive” housing unit in Ottawa!

Imagine my surprise when two weeks ago I received a phone call saying a unit had become available at Barrhaven, one of the specially built units that have the potential to meet most of my housing needs!

Linda standing near some trees. Shes' wearing a cap and has a mask dangling loosely from her neck.

This photo was taken the day before my birthday last July, after being at the cabin about three weeks.

It’s already June, over a year since I was forced from my previous home without another place to go to due to my disabling medical condition of severe Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, Environmental Sensitivities, Fibromyalgia, and Electro HyperSensitivity, none of which is properly recognized in this country. It’s almost a year since I (barely) made it to the summer cabin owned by some in my family. And half a year since my father passed away.

Despite a lot of struggle, I made it though winter with the help of a local woman and her family, some assistance from several canaries, a few friends in Toronto, and my uncle’s wife in Massachusetts (who had been paying the electric bill for the cabin for years and continued with my winter heating costs), as well as the hopes and prayers of many. I’m eternally grateful.

A small bear up on his hind feet, leaning up against the screen door, head cocked and looking straight at the camera through the screen.

Yearling bear climbing on the hand railing beside the door at the cabin.

I also was blessed by the visits of a young screech owl, wild turkeys, numerous other birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and for a short time some young raccoon siblings. I’ve learned a lot from these creatures and will treasure the photos I was able to take, as otherwise the memories would likely be lost in brain fog. The other night I was visited by a bear, a yearling, who was looking for food, alone. I got a blurry photo of him as he was about to climb on the hand railing beside the door to eat the moths circling around the light.

My challenges at the cabin have been great. No running water, no indoor toilet, no fresh organic food close enough to get for myself and too far for others to drive regularly, no insulation, no proper storage for the things I couldn’t have near me but needed to live, inadequate winter clothing, getting snowed in, and more challenges that should not be endured by anyone in a rich country like Canada, especially those with disabilities.

Through the course of it all, I discovered my situation does not fit into any official safety net mandate. There are only seven medically required housing units built for people with environmental sensitivities in Canada. I’ve been on a wait list since 2006, maybe 2007. Meanwhile, I’ve gone from a moldy home to an apartment balcony, and spent winter in a summer cabin. But despite the healing effects of the external environment at the cabin, I’ve lived here with the threat of being forcefully removed by a certain member of the family. The need to find a safer place has been a constant worry.

So imagine my surprise when two weeks ago I received a phone call saying a unit had become available in Barrhaven, one of the specially built units that had the potential to meet most of my housing needs! They wanted to know if would I please go there within a week and spend a night or two to see if it was actually suitable for me (people with MCS/ES are affected by different things, and some people are not able to tolerate the materials in these units, or the noise of the air handling system).

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