Photo © Courtesy of Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services
By Sarah McBain, Communications Specialist at Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services
For individuals leaving their life-long homes to begin a new journey in a nursing home, the decision of what to do with their house is always a debate. For Lidia Tromp, she knew exactly what she wanted to do: donate her land back to the Indigenous community.
Born and raised in Holland, Lidia moved to Canada and found a home in Tillsonburg, Ontario that would remain hers for 55 years. It was when she moved into this new house that she discovered a set of iron bookends in the cupboard of a person slumped over on the back of a horse, and believed it to represent the suffering of Indigenous people from their loss of land, children, and other forms of oppression. It was then, after all of those years of living in her home, that those bookends gave her the most selfless idea.
“God put it in my head and my heart to give [the house] away. It was such a liberating thought,” said Lidia in an interview with Ontario Aboriginal Housing Service’s Wanda Chorney, Manager of Title Services. “Good will come from it, I’m sure.”
Lidia approached her lawyer about her wish, which led to the discovery of Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services, when her lawyer reached out to our organization in June of 2021. Through contacting our Titles Department and working together with Lidia, her legal team, and friend Yvonne Hill, an inspection was completed on Lidia’s home and our Executive team graciously accepted the donation.
“She has the kindest, gentlest, and most giving heart and soul of anyone I have ever met and likely will ever meet. I was honoured to be the representative from OAHS to meet Lidia, I was incredibly moved,” Wanda mentioned regarding the interview.
Through years of hardship and loss, Lidia remains a high-spirited and kind woman. Working several jobs at a time to pay for the mortgage on her home during her lifetime, Lidia continued to contribute to her community by making handcrafted dolls. Whether it was attending local craft shows or sending them to other countries for young children, she made over 10,000 of them throughout her life.
During Lidia and Wanda’s meeting, Lidia made it clear she wanted Canadians to know that they too can do what she has done. Donating her home to the Indigenous people with the help of OAHS will ensure that an Indigenous family is housed safely and affordably to enhance their well-being and future. “I hope things work out better now for the Native nation than what has been done so far,” she said.
OAHS is Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services which is a non-profit housing provider with a focus on the Indigenous community.
Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services is a corporation with a mandate to provide safe and affordable housing to urban and rural First Nation, Inuit and Métis people living off-Reserve in Ontario. Our vision is to lead the design, development and delivery of a sustainable and culturally appropriate continuum of housing that promotes excellence in the community and organizational infrastructures.
In 1992, consultations took place across the province with the grass-roots members of organizations that serve First Nations, Métis and Inuit People not living on reserve lands to determine the need for affordable, adequate and suitable housing for low and moderate income families and individuals.
A steering committee was formed consisting of Ministry of Housing personnel and two representatives from each organization. On September 1, 1994, Ontario Aboriginal Housing Support Services Corporation was incorporated with two representatives from each organization forming the Board of Directors. Those organizations today consist of the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC), the Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) and the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO).