Jan. 03, 2023

Meet Jennifer's Family

No amount of words will ever explain how much gratitude I have for this amazing opportunity!

Jennifer Charlo dreamed of living and raising her family in Dettah, Northwest Territories, the community where she grew up, but lack of available housing put those dreams on hold.

Eight years ago, Jennifer moved out of her parents’ home and into an apartment in Yellowknife with her three young children and now ex-partner. They were happy for a while, but after going into pre-term labour with her fourth child, Jennifer had to be medically evacuated to Edmonton, Alberta for care, with her children eventually joining her. During her baby’s lengthy hospital stay, Jennifer worried about finances and paying rent in Yellowknife and gave up her apartment there. “I felt so alone in Edmonton,” says Jennifer. “My family and my support were in the north.”

After her baby was discharged from the hospital, the family was able to return home, and Jennifer’s sister took her family in for a few months until they were able to find another rental in Yellowknife at an exorbitant cost of $2,500 a month. The alternative was public housing, with a years-long waiting list. Her mother moved in and helped Jennifer through her separation and to support her young family, but sadly she passed away in early 2021.

“At one point I was behind on my rent and struggling to pay it off. It created so much stress, so much anxiety. My biggest fear was losing this home. Most of my money was going to rent and I just felt so defeated; I just wanted to give up,” says Jennifer.

With a lack of available housing in her home community, moving back to Dettah was wishful thinking. That is, until her boss told her about a partnership between Habitat for Humanity Northwest Territories and the Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN), and urged Jennifer to apply. At the last minute, she did. "I finally applied on the last day of the deadline. I gathered all my paperwork and sent it off with my hopes and prayers. I prayed about it to my mom and grandpa to help me. The day after I applied, I decided to leave it up to the creator, and whatever will be, will be."

"I will never forget the day that Habitat for Humanity called me. I was on my way to my baseball game when my phone rang, and they asked if I had a minute to talk. When they announced that the Habitat Board of Directors have chosen my family to occupy the home in Dettah I hunched over in disbelief and cried. I could not believe that my family was chosen. I cried tears of joy and I was so happy. No amount of words will ever explain how much gratitude I have for this amazing opportunity to finally be able to move home to Dettah. I'm just so happy I didn't give up."