Neyaashiinigmiing site for national housing pilot project

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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 energy-efficient 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.