Ground broken for Round Prairie Elders Lodge in Saskatoon
- John Lagimodiere | April 25, 2021
The vision Shirley Isbister and the Central Urban Métis Federation Inc. (CUMFI) have had for ages is finally coming to fruition.
Construction has started on a 26-unit affordable housing development in Saskatoon’s Pleasant Hill neighbourhood. The Round Prairie Elders Lodge will provide a wide range of supports for Elders on site in addition to shared amenity space for the community to enjoy, including a ceremony/prayer room and a courtyard featuring traditional medicinal plants and fruit trees.
“CUMFI has been committed to ensuring our Elders have a safe and affordable place to call home for a very long time. Our Elders have long expressed a need for Métis owned and operated supported and affordable seniors housing. After talking about it for twenty years, I almost can’t believe it’s happening,” said Shirley Isbister, President of CUMFI in a statement.
Thanks to financial contributions from government partners, the project will achieve rental rates that are 30 per cent below market, and energy efficiency that is 40 per cent better than current new construction standards.
The process to pull together this project was long and onerous and had many players at the table. The Round Prairie Elders’ Lodge is one of the first of 24 projects nationally under the Indigenous Homes Innovation Initiative (IHII) to reach the construction stage. The IHII program contributed $2.3 million and the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan (MN-S) has provided $1.5 million for the Lodge through the Canada-Métis National Housing Sub-Accord, which prioritizes new investments in housing and capacity-building programs to help those most in need. MN-S funding was made possible through the support of the MN-S Western Region II-A Regional Council.
On the municipal level, the City of Saskatoon provided $178,437 in funding for the new Elders’ Lodge through the Affordable Housing Capital Grant – an important initiative designed to create more affordable housing in Saskatoon.
“This is further proof that the best Indigenous housing solutions come from Indigenous peoples and communities,” Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services said in a statement. “I congratulate CUMFI on starting this creative and valuable housing project for Métis Elders. We remain committed to supporting important affordable housing projects such as this.”
Métis architect David T. Fortin took inspiration for the design of the building from the traditional Métis homes constructed around Saskatchewan. “Recognizing that the urban context is quite different than that of the rural folk home, we tried to take visual cues and overall space planning ideas that we have learned about over the years and translate certain aspects in a contemporary way. We were truly honoured to have this opportunity to try to respect the traditional Métis ways while honouring our Elders,” said Fortin.
Construction of the Round Prairie Elders’ Lodge commenced earlier in April and is expected to be complete by October of this year. The Lodge will improve housing in Pleasant Hill and also provide opportunities for local Indigenous companies with CUMFI’s commitment to ensuring Indigenous contractors are engaged throughout construction.
CUMFI ensures that safe, appropriate and affordable housing is available to individuals and families in need. “We are so excited for our Elders to move into their new homes later this year,” concluded Isbister. “The importance of being able to provide stable, quality homes for our Elders cannot be understated.”