By Beeber, Al on May 26, 2018.
Project brings housing
and education together
For The Herald
High school students from the Peigan Secondary School in Brocket worked with Your Choice Homes to construct a tiny home to help tackle the housing crisis within First Nation communities.
Your Choice Homes is a Saskatchewan-based company that started the Tiny Home Pilot Project through its Housing Through Education Project, funded by Indigenous Services Canada. They talked with First Nations on ways to better understand their needs in the communities.
Jay Noel from Your Choice Homes says they found a way to tackle multiple issues with the single project.
“We found disconnects with youth such as practical art credits in high school, and we also found there was the lack of single adult living,” says Noel. “We were able to bring education and housing together and housing through education.”
The Piikani Nation has around 6,500 members in the community with only 2,800 living on the land. Within the community there are only 418 homes for people to live in but by the end of the year the Tiny Home Pilot Project will have added 150 new units to the community to help aid the housing crisis.
The project provided needed living spaces for individuals, but also recruited students to help them develop valuable skills and provided them with 40 high school credits and field experience.
Alina Crow is one of the students who worked on the house, and through her experience she says the feeling of giving back was worth the hard work, and she possibly found a new career path in the process.
“When I signed up for the project I was a little worried being one of the only girls working on the house, I thought that the boys would take all of the work and push me aside,” says Crow. “When it came down to it, I found that I loved roofing, not only because I was the only one who would get up on the roof but because it was really fun.”
The students worked hard on the house knowing it was going to provide someone with a good quality living space, pushing them to learn more and work harder for the final product.
Elder Joyce Little Mustache found out she was selected to receive the home that the students built when she went to pay her rent, and they presented her with the news. Overwhelmed with joy, Little Mustache says that she is happy to finally have a place to call home.
“It means the world to me right now because I am of age and it is time for me to settle down,” says Little Mustache. “This is a dream and I still can’t believe it and I’ll probably still scream when I move in because I am so excited.”
Working hard her whole life to support her kids as a single mother, pushing through community crises and surviving situations such as boarding schools, Little Mustache says that staying positive, working hard and being kind has paid off in more ways then she can explain.
“I never dwelled on what was happening in my life, but I continued and worked hard all of my life to have what I have with my kids,” says Little Moustache. “Be nice to people, live a good life and good things will happen.”
Bryon Ironstar worked on a similar project in Saskatchewan when he was in high school, and received a call from Your Choice Homes to join another project and become the junior project manager for the Piikani effort. Immediately accepting the position, Ironstar says it is a great experience to help out the community but also to help out the students.
“It is heartwarming to see that Joyce will finally have her own home where she can be around her community and around her family,” says Ironstar. “It does a lot for students in the end because it shows them how to build team skills and all the necessities to build a house, from learning how to screw a screw in, to actually standing up a wall or shingling a roof.”
Little Moustache will be walking through the front door of her new 705-square-foot home in a couple of weeks, following the final inspection.
The Housing Through Education Project is continuing to fight the housing crisis within First Nation communities with the help of their sponsors though Indigenous Services Canada.
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