Neyaashi­inig­mi­ing site for na­tional hous­ing pi­lot pro­ject

Wiarton Echo - - FRONT PAGE - ZOE KESSLER Ed­i­tor

If the part­ners of a pi­lot pro­ject at Neyaashi­inig­mi­ing achieve their goals, First Na­tions com­mu­ni­ties across Canada could gain new, af­ford­able hous­ing for those most in need.

A ground­break­ing to­day at the First Na­tions ter­ri­tory at Cape Cro­ker rep­re­sented the cul­mi­na­tion of a year’s work be­tween com­mu­nity mem­bers of the Chippe­was of Nawash Unce­ceded First Na­tion, Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity Grey Bruce and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

Four sin­gle-fam­ily homes will be built this year on re­serve land ad­ja­cent to Syd­ney Bay Road, on a new road dubbed Kaikaiknong, or “the place of the hawks.”

After an open­ing cer­e­mony of drum­ming and prayers, var­i­ous dig­ni­taries and share­hold­ers spoke, then the fam­i­lies - cho­sen by the Neyaashi­inig­mi­ing hous­ing com­mit­tee, led by hous­ing man­ager Shane Che­gahno, from a pool of over 30 fi­nal­ists - were an­nounced.

“It be­gan when com­mu­nity mem­bers were in se­ri­ous need of hous­ing. And we were in se­ri­ous need of capital,” Chief Greg Nad­ji­won said in ad­dress­ing the gather­ing.

So much more comes along with hous­ing, Nad­ji­won said.

“When com­mu­nity mem­bers are housed in en­er­gy­ef­fi­cient dwellings, other is­sues are ad­dressed. Is­sues of se­cu­rity, of chil­dren go­ing to school and feel­ing good. It ad­dresses self-es­teem. It ad­dresses so much more than just be­ing in shel­ter.”

Nad­ji­won said the bat­tle cry for the hous­ing com­mit­tee mem­bers was, “let’s think out­side the box.”

“We’ve been look­ing for a house for years now,” said Tim Din­gler. He, his wife Josie and their three chil­dren were one of the four fam­i­lies cho­sen for a home in the new de­vel­op­ment.

“I’m just so over­whelmed,” he said. “I’m some­times in tears. We were so ex­cited and ner­vous; anx­i­ety com­ing out; so much com­ing out. I’m re­ally ex­cited about this op­por­tu­nity.”

Din­gler said with his num­ber of years of car­pen­try ex­pe­ri­ence, he will not only help build his own home but he’ll help other mem­bers of the com­mu­nity build theirs.

“We’ve been liv­ing in this house that is fall­ing apart around us,” Din­gler said, adding his kids are also ex­cited to move into a new place. “It’s go­ing to be won­der­ful.”

The pro­ject is funded pri­mar­ily through a $712,000 loan from the Canada Mort­gage and Hous­ing Cor­po­ra­tion (CMHC), which rep­re­sents about 85 per cent of the pro­ject fund­ing, said Greg Fryer, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity Grey Bruce.

Four three-bed­room sin­gle-fam­ily homes will be built on the new 25-acre de­vel­op­ment, Fryer said. Nine­teen build­ing lots have been plot­ted, with a plan for more homes to be built over the next five years.

As many as six could be built in 2019, Fryer said.

The homes will be built un­der the aus­pices of Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity Grey Bruce, with com­mu­nity and fam­ily mem­bers vol­un­teer­ing their time to help the four new home­owner fam­i­lies with their 500 hours of “sweat eq­uity” re­quired through the Habi­tat pro­gram.

Fam­i­lies will rent to own from the band, which CMHC ap­proved to re­ceive the fund­ing.

Ear­lier this year, the first Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity house built on a First Na­tions ter­ri­tory in On­tario was built at Neyaashi­inig­mi­ing.

ZOE KESSLER/WIARTON ECHO

Com­mu­nity mem­bers of the Chippe­was of Nawash Unce­ceded First Na­tion at Neyaashi­inig­mi­ing joined rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity Grey Bruce and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment at a ground-break­ing cer­e­mony for a joint pi­lot pro­ject at Neyaashi­inig­mi­ing to­day, where four homes will be built this year.

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