Saulteaux First Nation boy receives new accessible home: ‘A huge victory’

An 11-year-old boy with medical conditions that confines him in a wheelchair can now enjoy his brand new home that was custom built to meet his needs. Photo supplied: Joyce Night

An 11-year-old boy from the Saulteaux First Nation who has used a wheelchair since birth was surprised as community members surprised him with their own version of “Move That Bus” to reveal his new home.

Mitchell White was born with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC) which restricts function and motion of the joints.

Due to this, he is in a wheelchair where mobility has its challenges.

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The home Mitchell and his family are moving out of is inadequate to meet the needs of the 11-year-old boy, which made his mobility very restricted.

“It was in very bad condition,” said Mitchell’s mom, Sharla Katcheech. “When you first walk in, there’s a flight of stairs and it was hard for me to carry him. The floors weren’t great.”

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Mitchell’s needs did not go unnoticed. Joyce Night is amongst others who helped to make Mitchell’s new home a reality. Night fought tirelessly over two years with Jordan’s Principle to fund a new suitable home for Mitchell.

“I did a home visit and I seen the deplorable living conditions he was in,” said Night, Saulteaux mental health therapist. “He had no yard. It broke my heart that he couldn’t live a normal life.”

Night applied for funding from Jordan’s Principle and was denied funding but renovations were recommended. It wasn’t enough. Night said renovations are just a temporary solution. It fuelled Night to fight harder for him.

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After being denied twice for funding, Night got a hold of Cindy Blackstock’s office who put her in touch with a lawyer who appealed the decision to the Department of Justice.

“On Aug. 5th, a letter came that the [appeal] had been approved,” said Night. “To me, it didn’t have to go that far and it didn’t have to take that long.”

After a long battle, the day came when Mitchell was able to see his home for the first time. Night and community members organized a house reveal celebration on Feb. 16, 2022, where kids with welcome signs, drummers and the community leaders were present to witness a special moment.

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“It became a reality so it was very surreal and it was a huge victory,” said Night. “I always said it was Mitchell’s fight. He fought all the way and never allowed us to give up.”

Mitchell turns 12 years old at the end of the month and plans on celebrating his birthday in his new home with his family.

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