‘Tiny’ pilot project could have big rewards for Piikani Nation
Anew pilot program on the Piikani Nation could see young people earning workplace experience building tiny houses to combat the housing crisis.
The Piikani Nation was selected for a pilot project through Indigenous Services Canada in order to help address the single-occupant adult living shortages on many First Nations communities.
Twelve high school students from Peigan Secondary School will be constructing a small, single occupant dwelling — a so-called “tiny home” — with assistance from Your Choice Home, Inc. The property will be the first of its kind in the area. Building the home will provide the students with work experience in the trades.
The goal of the program is to assist youth in overcoming barriers to employment and provide quality employment in the community.
Your Choice Homes is a First Nations building company and the first to create this type of program for First Nations.
Through the Construction 101 program, Your Choice provides hands-on experience with a job site trailer that functions as a classroom, as well as equipment and safety gear for students. The students will also have an opportunity to earn their WHIMIS, fall protection, and first aid tickets.
Jay Noel, community partner with YC Homes, said the company became involved after researching the housing issues faced in many First Nations communities. They found a lack of practical arts training in schools.
“What we did was we thought we’d bring them together under housing through education,” he said.
“A lot of First Nations communities buy (homes) from outside the community,” he added. “The students have only seen houses roll in on wheels.
“What happens here is — combining with the school — the students are able to get a practical arts program and be part of a build in their community that they get to look at and be part of.”
Byron Jackson, Piikani Nation chief executive officer, said there simply aren’t enough homes on the Piikani Nation to sustain all the people living there. He said in 2015, chief and council identified 419 dwellings and as many as 2,700 people living on the Piikani Nation.
“A housing crisis here in Piikani is definitely something that has been looked at for a long time,” he said.
One area these tiny homes could benefit the Nation is in providing housing for Elders.
Jackson said once children leave the nest, some Elders are left to themselves in large homes.
“A tiny home to shrink (that empty space) down is a lot less bearing on somebody,” he said. “Especially when you have to do the maintenance and stuff like that.”
Piikani Nation Elder Joyce Little Moustache has been selected to move into the home once it is completed, which should take about eight weeks, according to Jackson.
About $250,000 in funding through Indigenous Services Canada was provided for the project, and that money will be used to build the home and provide infrastructure work such as water, sewer and electrical tie-ins.
“It’s all-encompassing,” Jackson said.
Community members gathered at Peigan Secondary School in Brocket on the Piikani Nation on Wednesday to take part in a sod-turning ceremony for a pilot program which will teach students job site construction skills and provide singleoccupant housing in...