Program provides First Nations with homes, students with skills
- NC Raine | July 25, 2017
A new affordable housing project is aiming to make a profound impact on every First Nation in Saskatchewan, and the project is being operated, almost entirely, by students.
Partnering with Your Choice Homes Inc, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) is offering the Construction Worker 101 program: a chance for students to learn fundamental industrial arts skills such as carpentry, framing, roofing, and other valuable life skills. From scratch, the students are building homes in their communities, with the opportunity to earn high school credits and up to 300 hours towards apprenticeships.
“Our goal is to be the mobile shop program for all the First Nations in the province,” said Jay Noel, Business Development at Your Choice Homes Inc.
So far, three successful programs have been completed at Carry the Kettle First Nation, Yorkton Tribal Council, and Fishing Lake First Nation.
After finishing the program, Carter Strongquill, student at Fishing Lake First Nation, showed so much promise, says Noel, that he was hired to work with one of the building partners in Saskatoon.
“If it wasn't for this program, I would've been graduated and sitting at home all summer. I didn't see myself anywhere until this program came,” said Strongquill. “[I've learned] I like to work with and for my community.”
In order to educate and facilitate all 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan on the housing project, FSIN have engaged three summer students in order to help these communities navigate the tricky process of funding.
“When I first heard about the program, I started thinking about the housing situation back home – which isn't the greatest. I could see it being really beneficial to the school and community,” said Michael Netmaker, a business student from Big River First Nation.
With fellow summer-students Janelle Sutherland and Chris Krug-Iron, the team have been introducing the program to communities across the province. The next housing project is taking place in Canoe Lake First Nation, and the students are already seeing evidence of the impact it's having on communities.
“It's rewarding to see the youth that we work with getting an opportunity that they might not have had at all,” said Sutherland, a Indigenous Social Work student from Beardy's & Okemasis' Cree Nation. “Every student wants to be involved and be a part of something bigger.”
With the social and educational potential this affordable housing project has demonstrated, the students are seeing this as something far bigger than a summertime job.
“We would love to see this program brought nation-wide,” said Krug-Iron, Education Student from Canoe Lake First Nation. “You hear about the housing crisis everywhere. What we want to do is make sure everyone has a place to live; First Nations getting both the housing they need and providing for their own people.”