Students and apprentices team up to build tiny log cabins for the north
- NC Raine | September 22, 2022
A group of young people are constructing solutions for the housing issue at Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation (PBCN).
A total of eight high school students and five apprentices from PBCN in Southend have participated in building two tiny log cabins at their First Nation. The project serves several meaningful purposes, said PBCN Chief Karen Bird.
“We have a lack of resources to build homes for our First Nation. It’s a crisis for housing in our community,” she said.
Bird explains that PBCN, a nation of about 12,000 people throughout eight reserves, only has about 900 total houses, which has led to overcrowding in houses and some members unable to find a place to live. This project aims to tackle that problem.
“This is a way to get young people involved,” said Bird. “They not only get a sense of pride out of it, for seeing a project through from beginning to end, but it gives them the skill and confidence it takes to go out and build their own home. It’s not as hard as they think.”
The students and apprentices acquired Construction Safety tickets through a 12-week Practical and Applied Arts program. They also took part in an apprenticeship exercise program on learning how to construct homes.
The project was facilitated by Your Choice Homes, a community partner organization who deliver education through workshops, training, programs, and activities, focused on building housing. Funding for the project came by way of the Saskatchewan Apprenticeship Trade Certification Commission (SATCC).
“There’s a huge opportunity for construction trades. Lots of journeymen are retiring, and there’s not enough people registering for apprenticeships to take those positions,” said Jay Noel, Business Development for YC Homes.
“So we see a huge opportunity for not only bringing certification and quality homes to First Nations, but tapping into the youth at a very impressionable age.”
According to Noel, the two tiny log cabins – chosen for their durability – constructed by the group of students and apprentices will be used as transitional housing on the First Nations. There is a long list of people waiting for a home who are transitioning to the community, so these tiny homes provide a place for them to stay until they can find permanent housing, he said.
The project also brought immediate benefit to many individuals in the community. YC Homes was able to employ local journeyman Craig Larson for the project, as well as each of the apprentices, who received hours to top their blue book. And, each of the high school students received a bursary at the end, as well as a high school credit and 350 future apprenticeship hours.
“We need to utilize our members,” said Chief Bird. “We don’t have a lot of journeymen in our First Nation reserves, but who we have, we need to use and support. We need them to pass those skills on to the youth, or anyone wanting to learn.”
Bird said that anyone struggling with housing or interested in building their own home or cabin should contact PBCN leadership to help getting housing.