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Stories of Our Houses

Learn how these First Nations used different approaches to improve housing practices in their communities.

  • Moose Cree First Nation

    (Music plays. Image shifts from aboard a plane flying over a community to wooden hut on the edge of a lake. Video title appears.)

    (Image shifts to Nation logo.)

    (Image shifts to Native wooden hut then to two people walking in the community.)

    (Image shifts to person interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Doug Rickard, Housing Director.)

    DOUG: Our population is roughly about 4,500. Half of the population live on reserve and the rest live either off reserve, Moosonee, Timmins, Cochrane.

    (Image shifts to new person interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Leona Fletcher, Home Owner.)

    LEONA: I lived in my father’s house growing up and the closest I could call it…it closest resembles a cabin because of…

    (Image shifts to wooden hut.)

    (Image shifts to Leona.)

    …they didn’t have the furnace they had the electrical stuff and it was wooden paneled and everything. It was very old school. We didn’t have simple things like indoor plumbing and for the longest time we didn’t have our own house, we, it often felt like we were in some sort of limbo.

    (Image shifts to Leona and a man walking outside.)

    (Text on screen: In 2007, with a shortfall of 300 houses, Doug decided to tackle this issue in a whole new way.)

    (Image shifts to a colourful building.)

    (Image shifts to Doug working at his desk.)

    (Image shifts to Doug.)

    DOUG: When I came on board four years ago, my approach as I came in was that housing was a business and not a program that First Nations run. Housing is a business because of the amount of the monies that the First Nation has invested in their

    (Image shifts from under big pole to colorful official building.)

    (Image shifts to a man on his cell outside a new house.)

    (Image shifts to new person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Terry Sutherland, Project Manager.)

    TERRY: Where I am now and actually building some of the houses on the island, and trying to bring it up to a nicer place to live for the members is something that I take personally because I’m from Moose Factory. I was born here and raised here when I was young. 

    (Image shifts to Terry on his small motorboat.)

    (Image shifts to colorful church in the community and school bus driving through.)

    (Image shifts to Ferry ‘Manitou Island II’ arriving near land.)

    (Image shifts to caterpillar tractor.)

    (Image shifts to man on Ferry taking pictures.)

    (Image shifts to excavator moving.)

    (Image shifts to Doug.)

    DOUG: Positive fix-it in dealing with an outside contractor was that all the materials and for the project were ordered and received on time. We didn’t have to worry about the logistics of getting the material in. It is a set price on our project per unit and if there’s any cost overruns on a project, the contractor…it comes out of their pocket as opposed to the First Nation.

    (Image shifts to computer screen.)

    (Text on screen: Within the last 4 years, 53 homes have been completed.)

    (Image shifts to Doug working on his computer.)

    (Image shifts to rundown building.)

    (Image shifts to a native sculpture of a bear then a seal on a table, then to several hanging native ornaments.)

    (Image shifts to Terry.)

    TERRY: We’ve tried to incorporate what Moose Cree First Nation wants. So they’re pretty critical on the design of the houses. We’ll present them with the drawings and then we can work through the drawing.

    (Image shifts to Doug examining drawings.)

    Before we actually build the house, we can you know, adjust…move bedrooms around or move the kitchen around, make things bigger or smaller.

    (Text on screen: The housing department offers 5 customizable site plans to choose from.)

    (Image shifts to man getting out of his dirty truck. A carpenter’s hand grabs a small sheet of wood and cuts it.)

    (Image shifts to carpenter assembling the sheets of wood.)

    (Image shifts to Doug.)

    DOUG: The contractor hired local labour. About 90% of the work force were local labour, also we did train some of the workers. In our first project we had a few of the carpenter helpers that were promoted to lead carpenters and we had one individual that was promoted up to a site supervisor, which was positive for the workers and also for the community.

    (Text on screen: Since this venture began, between 20 and 30 community members have been consistently employed.)

    (Image shifts to paint roller applying paint.)

    (Image shifts to new person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Peter Wesley, Associate Executive Director.)

    (Image shifts to hands holding small tool.)

    (Image shifts to worker piercing a hole in a wall with power tool.)

    (Image shifts back to Peter.)

    PETER: For our past two projects we have had our own project manager and our own Moose Cree project manager, and that’s something we’re going to keep building on. So, eventually he or another member can assume that contractor role. And that way if we utilize more of our own members during all states of our construction, not only at the contractor stage…that’s something I’d like to see for our members, and I think a lot of them want that as well. They’re asking for it.

    (Image shifts to driving shot along new houses.)

    (Text on screen: This year Moose Factory got approval to build 15 more homes.)

    (Image shifts to new person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Gilles Langlois, Director of Finance.)

    GILLES: One of the areas that we’re really proud of is that we work together. Moose Cree First Nation, we’re not individual silos. I’m really proud of the fact that we’re acting as more of a family than a team, and we’re building more homes.

    (Image shifts to 2 young workers carrying plywood.)

    (Text on screen: 15 homes will allow 60 people to stay in or move back to the community.)

    (Image shifts to Leona.)

    (Image shifts to her and husband inside house, then to kids’ bedrooms, then to family pictures on the walls.)

    LEONA: Being here now after all those months of stress and worry and all that, we finally have our home and it just feels really, really amazing. The kids have their own home, which is something they’ve never had and as a mom that’s really special to me. My youngest daughter she’s never had her own room before so when she moved here… she was just excited and she put all flowers in her room, and it’s really special and I’m going to cry.

    (Image shifts back to Leona.)

    (Image shifts to new person interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Norm Hardisty, Chief.)

    NORM: I’ve always been proud of my First Nation. I think in every aspect and every sector, there is opportunity to get better and certainly housing.  One day we will see 100% ownership for the Moose Cree First Nation. I think with the new housing that we have now we’re moving in that direction. So I think that it will be good to see that one-day.

    (Image shifts to two small boats anchored near fence surrounding new housing.)

    (Image shifts to different rows of new houses.)

    (Image shifts back to Norm.)

    (Image shifts to the shores of the lake.)

    (Image shifts to the ‘Stories of our Houses’ logo.)

    DISCLAIMER: To order the “Stories of Our Houses” videos for your community, or to speak to Doug Rickard, Housing Director, Moose Cree First Nation, contact Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) at 1-866-389-1742

    Moose Cree First Nation
    The community is proud of its housing and sees homeownership as crucial to its future.
  • Batchewana First Nation

    (Music plays. Image shifts from prehistoric etchings on a rock to a pebble beach, where waves end. Video title appears.)
    (Image shifts to Nation logo followed by a map of Lake Superior.)
    (Image shifts to person being interviewed.)
    (Text on screen: Dean Sayers, Chief.)

    DEAN: I’m just finishing my third term as Chief.
    We’ve been part of the leadership for a lot of generations and they’ve talked a lot over the years about the struggles of our people and how we can overcome and how we can reclaim our place. It’s nice to be able to be in this world now, taking all that information that I learned and incorporating that into the work that I do now

    (Image shifts to images of the community.)

    (Image shifts to another person being interviewed:

    (Text on screen: Karen Bird, Housing Director.)

    KAREN: There’s a lot of our population of our community that lives off reserve, and leadership and housings positions that we want to bring as many people home as we can, but that is a challenge to provide the amount of housing that’s needed for that.

    (Text on screen: Hundreds of members were forced to leave due to inadequate housing, employment and education.)

    (Image shifts to new constructions in a community.)

    (Image shifts to new person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Cathy Connor, Chief Administrative Officer.)

    CATHY: We started doing a callout to our community members, asking them what type of housing they needed, what they wanted to see in housing, what their needs were. We asked anybody that’s interested whether they would like to have their name submitted, to be chosen for an on-reserve housing allocation.

    (Image shifts to houses in a community.)

    (Text on screen: Close to 200 families are on a housing waiting list.)

    (Image shifts to Dean Sayers.)

    DEAN: We recognize that there are needs in our housing area and we do what we can to make everybody comfortable and provide them with those basic necessities. So housing is something that’s really important to us.

    (Image shifts to a clearing in a forest, where two men stand close to logs.)

    (Image shifts to the prehistoric etchings on a rock.)

    (Image shifts to the bank of a big lake.)

    (Text on screen: Over 95 elders live in the Batchewana community.)

    (Image shifts to Cathy Connor.)

    CATHY: I feel our biggest need at the present time is changing up to ensure that we meet some of the needs of our elders. We want to make sure that not only are they comfortable, they can still see the lake, they can still see the trees, they can still practice their culture and have a nice place to live.

    (Image shifts to a map of the region.)

    (Image shifts to houses and cars in a community.)

    (Image shifts to another person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Natasha Syrette, Community Member.)

    NATASHA: Living in the city it’s not very interactive. I wanted to be around my family. I was raised here on the reserve, so I want to raise my kids here, and I applied two different times within 3 years and I was finally accepted.

    (Image shifts to family pictures on a wall.)

    (Image shifts to Dean Sayer.)

    DEAN: The systems and the policy development in the entrenchment by the Council have really allowed for the flourishment of the whole housing program, and its really done a tremendous job in being able to allow the whole First Nation to run more efficiently.

    (Image shifts to the interior of a new home.)

    (Image shifts to new habitations.)

    (Text on screen: The Batchewana Housing Program began in 2002.)

    (Image shifts to new person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Erin Kucher, Tenant Liaison.)

    ERIN: I’ve been here as a tenant liaison for two and a half years and have gained an enormous amount of experience. We always stress the importance of attending our basic home maintenance workshop.

    (Image shifts to a woman bringing banknotes: she counts them.)

    (Text on screen: New policies and procedures within the Housing Program have led to record lows in eviction and transient rates.)

    ERIN:We’ll go through basically what the bank does with somebody who goes in to obtain a loan. We’ll see the extra monies they have and we’ll do a repayment agreement with them. I will then advocate for them.

    DEAN: We developed a really good team and our team is made up of a lot of administration, but as well as the political level is also involved extensively.

    (Image shifts to various members of the team. They all smile.)

    (Image shifts to Erin Kucher.)

    (Image shifts to a builder on a site, talking on his cell.)

    KAREN: I would say probably 80 – 90% of the contractors that we have working in our new construction are band owned businesses that employ band members. So we have a lot of certified people, a lot of experience band members that work on the units.

    (Text on screen: The Housing Program resulted in:
    4 full-time administrative positions
    2 part-time maintenance positions
    Over 50 construction jobs.)

    (Image shifts to new person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Ken Boyer, Construction Manager.)

    KEN: At any given time I’m managing up to at least 40 guys.

    CONSTRUCTION WORKER: When we first started off, we all went through a training program to build decent houses every year.

    (Image shifts to workers on a site.)

    (Image shifts to new person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Darcy Agawa, Site Foreman.)

    DARCY: Going outside you’ll find something happened out here. We had nothing before…so at least we’re getting work for local people around, so it’s pretty good.

    (Image shifts to a plan of a house floor.)

    (Image shifts to a new person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Jed Grawbarger, Owner, Amik Contracting.)

    JED: I don’t even know how many homes have gone up in the last even 10 years and I think it’s bringing a lot of community members back to the reserve and surrounding area.

    (Image shifts to a house being built, with the workers.)

    (Image shifts to two workings carrying a board.)

    (Image shifts to a power saw cutting the board.)

    (Image shifts to Ken Boyer.)

    (Text on screen: They have built 77 new homes since 2006. All homes are R2000 certified.)

    KEN: The houses we were building years ago, to the houses we are building now, it is a big change. We are actually building R2000 homes now. The houses are built a lot stronger, a lot healthier homes that we’re living in, and they’re affordable homes, nice homes and they’re really, really well built.

    (Image shifts to a worker hammering a nail, another one takes measurements, new houses stand in the community.)

    (Image shifts to Karen Bird.)

    KAREN: We’ve built, you know, close to 100 homes over the last five years, which is a big increase to any community cause it’s not one person per home.

    (Text on screen: The Housing Program benefits include new businesses, more daycare and youth programs.)

    KAREN: There have been a lot of families who have lived here for a long time whose children and grandchildren are coming home now, which is great for our community because we’re expanding that base and that community feeling of having more of our members home.

    (Image shifts to workers flattening the earth with rakes.)

    (Image shifts to Natasha Syrett.)

    NATASHA: Now there’s a lot more parks and a lot more kids. The community seems to be getting along better, you know, it’s a lot more homes so a lot more things to do and people to interact with.

    (Image shifts to a child playing in the community.)

    (Image shifts to new houses and new constructions.)

    (Text on screen: Batchewana population has increased from 584 people in 2006 to 692 people in 2012.)

    (Image shifts to Dean Sayer.)

    DEAN: We’ve been able to accommodate the change and it just seems that everybody really wants to be a part of our community.

    (Text on screen: Currently, there are 21 projects in construction.)

    (Image shifts to a new house.)

    (Image shifts to Ken Boyer.)

    KEN: Like when the jobs are done and I see the way the house looks, I see the people moving in with smiles on their face. I’m proud of that. I’m really happy that I had the opportunity to do this.

    (Image shifts to signposts hanging from trees.)

    (Image shifts to the smiling young cashier.)

    (Image shifts to the door of a new house.)

    (Image shifts to Natasha Syrett.)

    NATASHA: I really like this reserve. It’s quiet and a lot of friendly people, so I plan to stay here for a long time.  We’re back home now and it feels good.

    (Image shifts to Dean Sayer.)

    DEAN: Things are growing, and things are changing and things are getting better.

    (Image shifts to a signpost amid the trees.)

    (Image shifts to the logo “Stories of our house).

    DISCLAIMER: To order the “Stories of Our Houses” videos for your community, or to speak to Karen Bird, Housing Director, Batchewana First Nation, contact Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) at 1-866-389-1742

    Batchewana First Nation
    Taking the approach of "housing as a business" has brought about positive change and has kept the community on track in managing its housing needs.
  • Stories of Our Houses – Kasabonika

    (Music plays. Image shifts from clouds in the sky to a canoe on the edge of a lake. Video title appears.)

    (Image shifts to Nation logo.)

    (Image shifts to a colourful native painting representing the sun and an eagle above tents.)

    (Image shifts to a person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Jerry Pemmican, Community Member.)

    JERRY: Well, I’ve been here since 1986. There are a few places where I’ve been shifted to live in, in the old rundown houses.

    (Image shifts to a rundown house.)

    It was a small house. I used to look around for old houses that are torn down and get plywood, whatever I needed. 

    (Image shifts to new person interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Gordon Anderson, Chief.)

    GORDON: Most of the houses are very rundown before and there was no running water, basically not electricity in every house that was built.

    (Image shifts to another rundown house.)

    (Text on screen: Without proper resources, homes became seriously overcrowded and deteriorated.)

    (Image shifts to a street of rundown houses.)

    (Image shifts to a new person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Cartley Tait, Community Member and Tradesman.)

    CARTLEY: There’s a lot of people on this reserve that have never had a home. There’s some people going into their 30s and they’ve never even moved out of their moms house because there is nowhere to go.

    (Image shifts to a sign reading ‘Kasabonika Lake – First Nations – Band Office.)

    (Image shifts to documents pinned on a board.)

    (Image shifts to Gordon.)

    GORDON: Things weren’t that consistent. Whatever this is…we made on housing was basically scraped every two years because nobody didn’t follow up on those. So we had to create a housing committee to continue on with the decisions in the work that we come up with.  
    (Image shifts to hands typing on keyboard.)

    (Text on screen: The Housing Committee was formed in 2008.)

    (Image shifts to Gordon in his office.)

    (Image shifts to Jerry.)

    JERRY: I guess they need to build more houses for families that have bigger families that old houses re-renovated for the winters and stuff like that, you know.

    (Image shifts to a driving shot along row of rundown houses.)

    (Image shifts to new person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Raymond Morris, Housing director.)

    RAYMOND: The Chief in Council used to select who gets the housing and now they use a criteria, but their needs and whose houses needs major renovations or if it’s condemned or not.

    (Image shifts to plans and regulations pinned on board.)

    (Text on screen: Clear policies and strict criteria have helped the Committee make the best housing decisions for their members.)

    (Image shifts to two houses in the community.)

    (Image shifts to Cartley.)

    CARTLEY: There’s a lot of families that are bunched up together, three or four families in one house. It gets them all excited knowing that there’s a new house coming or a newly renovated house. I’m one of the lucky ones to have my family in one house.

    (Image shifts to the whole community waiting in line to help themselves to hot dishes at a gathering.)

    (Image shifts to Cartley’s family in their house.)

    (Image shifts to new person interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Neil MacDonald, Construction Project Manager.)

    NEIL: Most of the houses here were built incorrectly when they were first built and we’re taking care of getting them all fixed up. Livable and better than they were before. We usually have different crews every time we take on a project. It’s all local labour. We try and use community members to do most aspects of the construction.

    (Image shifts to big excavator moving earth near a house, then to rennovated houses, then back to Neil.)

    (Image shifts to Cartley Tait doing construction work inside a house.)

    (Text on screen: The Housing Program provided over 100 band members with employment opportunities.)

    (Image shifts to Cartley Tait.)

    CARTLEY: I’m able to fix something on my own instead of asking the band to do something for me. It builds up my confidence and I’m not the only one that feels like that either.

    (Image shifts to a new person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Gregory Gliddy, Community Member and Tradesman.)

    GREGORY: I’m a carpenter. I do, like, build houses I guess, like foundations, everything.

    (Image shifts to Gregory working inside house.)

    (Image shifts to truck outside, then to two workers.)

    (Image shifts to Raymond Morris.)

    RAYMOND: Our First Nation people are better trained instead of getting somebody out of town to work here. Get somebody local to work as a journeyman and look after the renovation of our new housing.

    (Image shifts to another house with two workers outside.)

    (Image shifts to one worker using a power screwdriver.)

    (Image shifts to Neil laughing with another guy.)

    (Image shifts to Neil McDonald.)

    NEIL: People seem to take a little bit more pride in their units now that they’re fixed up and not full of water. It’s been good, yes.

    (Image shifts to Jerry Pemmican looking at a lake, then walking in his yard towards his dogs’ cage.)

    (Image shifts to Jerry.)

    JERRY: Life here is good. A lot of space. I sleep well. I don’t have to get cold at nights. It’s good to have a house.

    (Image shifts to his new house.)

    (Image shifts to Cartley Tait.)

    (Image shifts to girlfriend washing dishes in sink.)

    (Text on screen: New homes are better built, safer and meet industry standards.)

    (Image shifts to him holding his baby, then to his two other kids in front of a compute, then back to him.)

    CARTLEY: My girlfriend has never had a fully functioning house, whether it’s no plumbing, no running water. I look up at the ceiling and you can see the insulation. I love seeing my kids running around inside it to say that this is my home. We like to call it our dream house.

    (Image shifts to the family outside their house.)

    (image shifts to Raymond Morris.)

    RAYMOND: I enjoy living here. I’ll probably stay here for the rest of my life.

    (Image shifts to Gregory.)

    GREGORY: I like it here. Kasab

    (Image shifts to a row of new houses.)

    (Image shifts to Gordon.)

    GORDON: I am glad to be a leader here, a Chief in my community. It is a nice place and basically we are a family here.

    (Image shifts to aerial view of a small peninsula.) 

    (Image shifts to Cartley and his family outside their house, his kids jumping and playing in the family room, his daughter and son smiling and laughing outside.)

    (Image shifts to Cartley.)

    CARTLEY: This is good. Builds up the confidence and puts smiles on the kids faces, especially when you’re walking by a finished project, and you see a happy family in that house and you say, “We did that.”

    (Image shifts to Cartley, his wife and 3 children walking outside.)

    (Image shifts to ‘Stories of our houses’ logo.

    DISCLAIMER: To order the “Stories of Our Houses” videos for your community, or to speak to Raymond Morris, Housing Director, Kasabonika First Nation, contact Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) at 1-866-389-1742

    Kasabonika Lake First Nation
    Members of the community openly share their goals to move their community forward throught housing: home renovations, maintenance and the building of a skilled trade workforce.
  • Couchiching First Nation

    (Music plays. Image shifts from geese flying over a lake to golden leaves on the ground. Video title appears.)

    (Image shifts to Nation logo.)

    (Image shifts to Couchiching signpost on a road.)

    (Image shifts to a man petting a dog.)

    (Image shifts to person interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Allan Yerxa, Community Member and Lands & Resources Project Coordinator.)

    ALLAN: We moved up here. There was no place to stay so we stayed with my niece. It was pretty crowded over there and they were in the process of building these houses.

    (Image shifts to nail being hammered.)

    (Image shifts to another person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Louis Bruyere, Community Member.)

    LOUIS: I was living in a real dilapidated house that was on the reserve here, which is now…it’s torn down now.

    (Image shifts to dilapidated house.)

    (Image shifts to another person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Chuck McPherson, Chief.)

    CHUCK: We didn’t really have policy identified rules and regulations for the committee to operate under and recently we’ve adopted a housing policy so they have some type of a formulated structure from which to operate now.

    (Image shifts to housing in community.)

    (Text on screen: The Housing Committee implemented a formal policies and procedures structure in 2011.)

    (Image shifts to other houses.)

    (Image shifts to another person interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Deidre Morneau, Housing Operations and Maintenance Coordinator.)

    (Image shifts to her hands leafing through a document.)

    DEIDRE: We’ve had the Housing Committee a year and a half I think now. They review the applications. They review if someone is applying for a revolving housing loan program.

    (Text on screen: In 2010, there were 63 applications form families requesting housing.)

     (Image shifts to Chuck.)

    CHUCK: The whole idea behind the Housing Committee was to get a wider and more diverse opinion on housing needs in the community.

    (Image shifts to exterior official building.)

    (Image shifts to Housing Committee.)

    ALLAN: So I sent in a letter to the Housing Committee and we went through an interview process at the time and we were selected for a house.

    (Image shifts to Allan Yerxa.)

    (Image shifts to the sky above new house.)

    (Text on screen: The Committee now has a more efficient, streamlined decision-making process.)

    (Voice of SMOKEY, another person being interviewed: People have something now that they didn’t have before. There’s some good, positive things that come out of the houses.

    (Image shifts to Chuck.)

    (Text on screen: Within the last two years, 41 community projects have been completed, employing up to 16 skilled workers.)

    (Image shifts to 2 men in front of computer.)

    CHUCK: Through our Education Authority in the district here we’ve had a number of people acquire their tickets to be carpenters.

    (Image shifts to Smokey Bauyere, Band Member.)

    SMOKEY: We’ve got I think six or seven main contractors that we use now on the reserve and they’re all reserve members.

    (Image shifts to a carpenter in the site of a house.)

    (Image shifts to another person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Steve Morisseau, Maintenance Worker.)

    STEVE: Plus the water and sewer, basic plumbing, other duties include cutting grass, taking care of the band buildings.

    (Image shifts to sink with tap being turned on.)

    (Image shifts to Deidre.)

    DEIDRE: Every new build has had the HRV installed and the high efficiency furnaces.

    (Image shifts to panoramic of houses in community.)

    (Image shift to new person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Alex Bruyere, Community Member, Licensed Maintenance and Land & Resources Assistant.)

    ALEX: There’s 111 homes, which is 111 furnaces, and 111 HRV’s and hot water tanks. I’ll come in on a regular schedule with notice to the tenants, service their appliances on an annual basis, some of them, and on an every three month basis.

    (Image shifts to furnace.)

    (Text on screen:162 houses have been built or renovated, including 8 homes for senior band members.)

    ALEX: Possibly this could spread out later on to having to hire other people on because there is a lot of homes. It’s an investment for the band, but it’s an investment for the community as well. 

    (Image shifts to different homes in the community.)

    (Text on screen: All new homes are building code compliant.)

    (Image shifts to Chuck.)

    CHUCK: The quality of the homes are much better now. They’re warm. Better looking homes to begin with, not deteriorating to the point where you can look out the walls and see the outside anymore.

    (Image shifts to Alex.)

    (Image shifts to his computer screen, then back to him.]

    ALEX: Now we’re actually involving ourselves to what’s going on around there, where years and years have gone by. I mean, in the past that things have just been going on around us and there was never any involvement.

    (Image shifts to big map on the wall.)

    (Image shifts to Smokey.)

    (Image shifts to Powwow sign.)

    SMOKEY: Since I’ve been here we’ve had our cultural aspects coming back within the community. We have a brand new powwow ground, which we just built this past year. We’re in the process of building an arena on the reserve. The next thing we’re going to be building is a roundhouse, but I mean, people are very proud of those kinds of things.

    (Text on screen: The community is re-energized, both culturally and economically.)

    (Image shifts to Louis Bruyere.)

    LOUIS: I’m very proud of my house. I want to make it, you know make it my own. 

    (Text on screen: Today, there are 86 families on the housing waiting list.)

    (Image shifts to his living-room, him with his child, a picture on the wall.)

    (Image shifts to another house.)

    (Image shifts to interior house, pictures on walls, teenager working on computer in his room, family-room, then to Allan.)

    ALLAN: The house itself it’s allowed my children to grow independently. They’ve grown up to acknowledge their own space, call it their own. When they’re out visiting or sleeping over at somebody’s house or something like that and they come back, they appreciate what they have.

    (Image shifts to Chuck.)

    (Image shifts to little girl running in gym, joining friends to play.)

    (Image shifts to Allan, Louis, his baby.)

    CHUCK: I have great pride in Couchiching. The people that we have living on Couchiching are members of Couchiching, are a talented group of people and if given the opportunity, success is not even questionable.

    (Image shifts to Alex.)

    ALEX: We’re finally starting to move forward and positive things will happen and positive things already started happening.

    (Image shifts to people walking in the street, to a small lake.)

    (Image shifts to Allan.)

    ALLAN: We love our house.

    (Image shifts to a ‘Welcome Friends’ sign hanging on house.

    DISCLAIMER: To order the “Stories of Our Houses” videos for your community, or to speak to Deidre Morneau, Housing Director, Couchiching First Nation, contact Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) at 1-866-389-1742

    Couchiching First Nation
    Learn what they have accomplished in the areas of housing policy, job creation, rent collection, and the protection of investments through maintenance.
  • Saugeen First Nation

    (Music plays. Image shifts from Saugeen sign on a lawn to a wide beach surrounded by trees, and washed by a lake. Video title appears.)

    (Image shifts to Nation logo.)

    (Image shifts to a huge word ‘Friendship’ drawn on a field.)

    (Image shifts to a couple being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: James and Nicole D’Atri, new home owners.)

    NICOLE: We lived in a little tiny shack, two bedroom little shack and that was one of the roughest times in our lives.

    (Image shifts to a small shack.)

    (Image shifts to new person interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Ron Root, Housing Manager.)

    RON: There was no indoor plumbing, no kitchen facilities, no bathroom facilities. I felt that deep in my heart that I have to do something for this particular family.

    (Image shifts to Ron walking along parked truck.)

    (Image shifts to new person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Vernon Root, Past Chef.)

    VERNON: My name is Vernon Root and I’ve been a Chief of this community for a number of years. From the days where I used to haul water, and bring it into the house and where we would have to go outside to the outhouses. We’ve developed a housing program that I’m pretty proud of.

    (Image shifts to feet of a man and a child walking.)

    (Image shifts to Vernon walking with his grand-son.)

    (Image shifts to Vernon.)

    (Image shifts to new person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Derek Laronde, Project Manager.)

    DEREK: We’ve been working in partnership with Saugeen First Nation for the last few years to establish affordable and sustainable housing in the community.

    (Image shits to Derek and Ron Root discussing and looking at drawings in front of vehicle.)

    (Text on screen: 6 homes recently built tested R2000 compliant.)

    (Image shifts to excavator running.)

    (Image shifts to drawings in Derek’s hands.)

    (Image shifts to excavator working as Derek watches.)

    DEREK: For this project, teamwork empowered all the workers right across the board, so in the future I won’t be the one doing the project, they’ll be the ones doing the construction and taking over my role.

    (Image shifts to new person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Jennifer Kewageshig, Skills Training Centre.)

    JENNIFER: The Skills Training Centre is employment and training within Saugeen First Nation.

    (Image shifts to a ‘Safety First’ sign on a site.)

    (Image shifts to Ron.)

    RON:  We started off by having a training program in place and we were gearing up towards getting a certification. At that time they were offering just a card to say that you were trained under carpentry, and I wasn’t satisfied with that and I wanted a provincial ticket for the boys.

    (Image shifts to man training.)

    (Text on screen: 6 members are already Red Seal Certified, allowing them to work immediately across Canada.)

    (Image shifts to training workshop.)

    (Text on screen: Over 250 young people have been trained in a new skill in the trades.)

    JENNIFER: Each summer we employ a majority of the students that do apply for employment. This year we had 49 students over an eight-week period.

    (Image shifts to various machinery in workshop.)

    (Image shifts to new person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Tyler Nawash, Apprentice.)

    TYLER: I was just looking for work right after I was done high school. I did a carpentry program before that. I basically know how to build a house step by step.

    (Image shifts to Tyler with workers on a site.)

    (Image shifts to new person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Jim Besito, Tradesman.)

    (Image shifts to big power saw cutting wood, then to trainee wearing protective glasses as trainer watches, hands holding a piece of wood being sawed.)

    JIM: Other First Nations should adopt this training model because it’s easier when the training is on the reserve. It’s more hands on, it’s more comfortable and the apprentices see the immediate benefits of their work.

    (Image shifts to new person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Jeff Mundel, Mundel Electrical and Mechanical.)

    JEFF: There is not enough people in the trades right now and especially if you are qualified, if you are educated in the electrical, plumbing, any of the fields, carpentry, it doesn’t matter what it is, and if you want to work, you will always have a job.

    (Image shifts to trainee in workshop.)

    (Text on screen: 10 to 20 community members are employed full-time in the skilled trades.)

    (Image shifts to new house.)

    (Image shifts to new person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Fran Ricthie, New Home Owner.)

    FRAN: I was very proud of how my house was built. I was very proud of the workers and I feel that we need more Native workers like this to work on our reservations, to build our homes and keep them employed and things like that.

    (Image shifts to the house staircase and kitchen.)

    (Image shifts to two workers.)

    (Text on screen: Recent housing construction provided work for 80% if the community’s unemployed.)

    (Image shifts to Fran getting the keys of her new house, and showing them to the camera.)

    (Image shifts to Vernon.)

    VERNON: We have now houses that have water. We have decent sanitation facilities. We also have those important factors as heat and also the room that’s required for our families to grow in.

    (Image shifts to new house.)

    (Text on screen: Saugeen in building some of the most advanced low-rise green homes in Canada.)

    (Image shifts to other new homes in the community.)

    (Image shifts to living room of a new home.)

    (Image shifts to Nicole’s two children in the living space.)

    (Image shifts to children on swings, outside.)

    (Image shifts to Nicole and James in their living room.)

    NICOLE: A dream come true. I’ve got a beautiful home, our kids are happy in our beautiful community and we love it here. Never could have imagined that we could have a house this beautiful.

    (Image shifts to Vernon.)

    VERNON: Our housing has come a long way. I’m really proud of that.

    (Image shifts to sign saying, “HOME”.)

    (Image shifts to ‘Stories of Our Houses’ Logo.

    DISCLAIMER: To order the “Stories of Our Houses” videos for your community, or to speak to Ron Root, Housing Director, Saugeen First Nation, contact Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) at 1-866-389-1742

    (Image shifts to a small shack.)

    (Image shifts to new person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Ron Root, Housing Manager.)

    (Image shifts to Ron walking along parked truck.)

    (Image shifts to new person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Vernon Root, Past Chef.)

    (Image shifts to feet of two persons walking.)

    (Image shifts to Vernon walking with his grand-son.)

    (Image shifts to Vernon.)

    (Image shifts to new person being interviewed.)

    Saugeen First Nation
    The training and apprenticeship programs offered at the Saugeen Skilled trades Centre have transformed the way buildings are designed, constructed and operated.
  • Stories of Our Houses — Wikiwemikong

    (Music plays. Image shifts from the edge of a lake to a new housing complex community. Video title appears.)

    (Image shifts to Nation logo next to ‘Wikwemikong — Unceded Indian Reserve’.)

    (Image shifts to a tall totem.)

    (Image shifts to person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Jeffrey Toulouse, Housing Director.)

    JEFFREY: In the early 70s, we developed a policy in general for housing and it’s been worked on over the years.

    (Image shifts to Jeffrey working at his desk.)

    (Image shifts to sign saying ‘Native Housing, Native People of Sudbury Development Corporation.’)

    (Image shifts to new person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Blake Webkamigad, Property Records.)

    BLAKE: There wasn’t much…there was more…a lot of repeat offence of stuff. There was no evictions really. People just kept doing whatever they wanted.

    (Image shifts to Jeffrey.)

    JEFFREY: So now, because the demands are higher, we have to strengthen our policies to make sure that we service the proper people.

    (Image shifts to various employees in an office.)

    (Image shifts to new person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Cheryl Osawabine, Property Manager.)

    CHERYL: Six years ago I started here, and at that time while they had a policy, it was outdated. So working with the Housing Committee, it took a couple of years, but we managed to develop the policy and we’ve been implementing it ever since.

    (Image shifts to hand on telephone, woman on the phone, offices.)

    (Text on screen: A new housing policy addressing late payment and destruction of property was firmly implemented.)

    (Image shifts to truck driving by housing.)

    (Image shifts to truck parking.)

    (Image shifts to Jeffrey.)

    JEFFREY: There’s an application process to begin with and there are…we require references on those applicants just to verify that they can afford or if it’s a service that’s providing their shelter allowances.

    (Image shifts to application forms.)

    (Image shifts to female employee in office.)

    (Image shifts to Jeffrey.)

    JEFFERY: Our selection process is done by the administration. We have an ongoing list that we review. The applicants do update on a regular basis any changes to either income, family size, situations, or maybe there’s other services involved with assisting somebody with getting housing.

    (Image shifts to woman looking at files in office.)

    (Text on screen: Applicants are only permitted to rent homes that match their family size and level of income.)

    (Image shifts to other employees at their computers.)

    (Image shift to new person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Carmen Ominika, Property Records.)

    CARMEN: Sometimes it’s not first come, first serve. It’s what we think that some people might need more, like they’re completely homeless and some people you know they’re saying, “Oh I’m staying with friends. They’re okay with me here for now.” I don’t think a lot of people know how demanding it is. Like, housing is very demanding around here. 

    (Image shifts to houses in a community.) 

    (Text on screen: The minimum rental age has been raised to 19 years of age.)

    (Image shifts to Cheryl.)

    CHERYL:  Any new applicant has to start off in an apartment. We use it kind of like a probationary period. So they’re in there for at least one year before they qualify for a transfer. And after one year, if their rent is up to date, and there’s been no complaints about them, then they could be transferred to a single unit.

    (Image shifts to housing complex.)

    (Image shifts to community with its water tower.)

    (Image shifts to Blake.)

    BLAKE: We have over 400 hundred units in our capacity and it does take a lot of maintenance costs for those, so what we really need to do is try to keep them cost efficient as possible.

    (Image shifts to big filter unit being removed and cleaned.)

    (Image shifts to new person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Neil Naokwegijig, Finance Manager.)

    NEIL: One of the things we are working on right now is purchasing some property management software so that we can better manage the maintenance of the units.

    (Image shifts to hand writing on a log.)

    (Image shifts to maintenance workers.)

    (Image shifts to new person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Bruce Recollet, Maintenance Supervisor.)

    BRUCE: Some of the tenants are young and they don’t really know how to look after places. So we kind of have to go in there and fix things and we let them know what they got to do to prevent things from happening.

    (Image shifts to Jeffrey.)

    JEFFREY: We sit down with the tenants at the beginning. We explain what the rental agreement is about, what their roles are as a tenant, what our role is as a landlord and what is tolerated by the community.

    (Image shifts to form filled up, maintenance supervisor checking form, installing fire extinguisher.)

    (Text on screen: Under the new policy, maintenance costs have already been reduced by 5%.)

    (Image shifts to Cheryl.)

    CHERYL: We’re over 90% of collecting rent, which I’m told is really good for a First Nation community.

    (Image shifts to Neil.)

    I think the reason why we have such a successful repayment rate is we have a property management officer who’s heavily involved in collecting rents. She keeps on top of the clients when they go into arrears. She sends them arrears notices right away. She doesn’t allow people to build up too much arrears. So she’s always trying to get them to pay extra and she’ll find ways to do it.

    (Image shifts to driving shot along rows of houses in community.)

    (Text on screen: The new policy resulted in a 10% reduction in arrears.)

    (Image shifts to new person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Walter Mishibinijima, Retired Property Manager.)

    WALTER: We trained our own people here, so everything here is made right on the reserve. Kitchen cupboards are made right on site. They have their own electricians, they have their own plumbers, the excavations, everything is local.

    (Image shifts to 3 workers with helmets in front of house being built.)

    (Image shift to electrical circuits in house.)

    (Image shifts to excavator outside.)

    (Image shifts to new person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Allan Eshkawkogan, Construction Supervisor.)

    ALLAN: In which case, there’s more labour dollars to spread around the community, so it stays in the community and that’s good.
    (Image shifts to workers on house roof.)

    (Text on screen: The housing industry employs up to 100 community members.)

    (Image shifts to hands cutting materials, hammering nails.)

    (Image shifts to Carmen.)

    CARMEN:  My desire would be that there would be more available opportunities for people to have, not just rental units, that they can have their own home. 

    (Image shifts to new person being interviewed.)

    COMMUNITY MEMBER:  As Miranda says, everybody wants to own their own home. It’s a dream.

    (Image shifts to Cheryl.)

    CHERYL: Right now we’re developing the home ownership policy because we do have some single units that the mortgages are going to be up in the 25 years that’s going to be past, and we have tenants that have been in the unit for a long time and they want to know. And, I think that if they knew that in 20 years they’re going to own that house, they’re going to take better care of that house. They’re going to have more ownership for that house.

    (Image shifts to driving shot along town.)

    (Image shifts back to Cheryl.)

    (Image shifts to interior of house: kitchen, living room.)

    (Image shifts to new person being interviewed.)

    (Text on screen: Debbie Fox, Home Owner.)

    DEBBIE: I love this place. As you can tell I did a lot of painting and fixing it up when I moved in because I knew I wasn’t going to go anywhere else.

    (Image shifts to water tower above trees.)

    (Image shifts to “Stories of Our Houses’ Logo.)

    DISCLAIMER: To order the “Stories of Our Houses” videos for your community, or to speak to Jeffrey Toulouse, Housing Director, Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve, contact Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) at 1-866-389-1742

    Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve
    Trained trades, responsible tenants, strict administration the people of Wikiwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve have created their own solution to the daunting challenge of managing housing for a large First Nation community.



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