High-profile hand helps city families
Govenor General part of Habitat project
Caring Canadians helping one another — that is what is so powerful about Habitat for Humanity, says Gov. Gen. David Johnston.
The high-profile patron of Habitat for Humanity was on site recently in Evanston, a community in northwest Calgary.
He was working a skill saw, a nail gun and a paint brush on one of the two duplexes that four families will call home late this spring.
He also honoured four volunteers with Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta with the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award.
“It was a terrific build,” Johnston says of the day. He has experience building his own log cabin and has now participated in four or five Habitat builds across the country.
“(Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta) has very ambitious plans for the future,” he says.
"The biggest constraint is actually land. That’s true, of course, in Calgary, but it’s true in most other places across the country.
“We have over a million people who are without homes in Canada, so the work of Habitat for Humanity is so wonderful in dealing with that and giving people a step up.”
Qualico Communities is the developer of the Evanston community and is a land partner for Habitat for Humanity.
“Not only is Qualico a financial supporter, it has, in Calgary, partnered to provide Habitat with access to land — lots or parcels — as a builder within our select group among our show home builders,” says Karin Finley, vice-president of community development for Southern Alberta for Qualico Communities.
“Access to land remains to be one of the biggest challenges for Habitat. Qualico is proud to help remove barriers to providing Calgary families access to land and homes, understanding that homes are important to the growth and stability of families.”
The Evanston homes will consist of three-bedroom, two-storey homes containing 1,030 square feet each. They will be certified platinum — the highest level of the BuiltGreen Canada Program, which is a voluntary program that promotes eco-friendly and sustainable housing.
It will help reduce overall costs to families for utilities and water. Construction began last year and should be complete this spring or summer.
Patrick Cashion, Brenda Fischer, John Davis and Phil Johnson each received the Caring Canadian Award, the Governor General’s award to honour people who have made a significant, sustained, unpaid contribution to their community in Canada or abroad.
All fourrecipients have dedicated countless hours over the past years serving as volunteers on the board of directors and as leaders on Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta projects.
Missionaries Tim Navratil and his wife Aileen, joined sons Josiah, 9, and Jeremiah, 7, to celebrate meeting their commitment of 500 hours of sweat equity hours of volunteer work on their home.
“We’ve moved around to three different countries and moved seven different times,” says Tim.
“A Habitat home means stability for us and settling down in Calgary here. It’s wonderful to be able to afford a home — that’s quite amazing — and there’s a nice park here close to the house for the boys. It’s a nice, energy-efficient home we’re building.”
Their house is framed and roofed, and work is starting on drywall and siding.
Having a new home filled with natural light from large windows — and with bedrooms for each family member — is a dream come true for the Navratils.
The sense of community is already established. “Some of the Habitat owners who are going to live nearby have kids that our kids can play with,” says Tim.
The three other families include Ermias Yohannes and Mikal Berhe, with their three sons Yotam, 10, Abner, 8, and Yason, 6.
They fled Eritrea in Africa because of religious persecution and have started a new life in Canada.
Ghirmay Gofar and Fiori Fisahaye have three girls, Jitirm, 5, Yocabed, 3, and Mary, 1. They sought a safer neighbourhood in which to raise their daughters.
Meanwhile, Habitat family Yannick and Channy Potvin found the happy addition of triplets — Tommy, Jimmy and Swanny, now one year old — to their family overwhelmed their budget.
“Once you have a home and you can put your family in, a lot of other good things flow from that, and we saw that today,” said Johnston.
Visit our website for more photos.
Gov. Gen. David Johnston works a saw for Habitat for Humanity.