OTTAWA — Fisher River Cree Nation Chief David Crate believes he has a solution to Manitoba’s on-reserve housing crisis.
Crate was in Ottawa this week to lobby the federal government to help fund a national centre of excellence for on-reserve housing, which is to provide training for reserve residents on sustainable home construction, housing operations and maintenance.
“This could have a really positive impact,” said Crate after two days of meetings with politicians and staff.
The plan would be to partner with Atco Sustainable Communities Inc. to build a training centre in Fisher River. It would provide a classroom setting to train band members in better housing management systems, as well as maintenance schedules and work, to prolong the life of on-reserve housing.
A second component would have band residents build modular homes in Fisher River, which would be shipped back to their home reserve for installation.
About 40 people would be hired to do the training, and 150 homes could be built in the first year.
Fisher River and ATCO are seeking funding for the training. Crate said they have their own resources for the construction of the centre.
A federal report last year concluded Manitoba reserves have the deepest deficit of housing in any province, with $1.9 billion needed to address the issues of overcrowding and uninhabitable housing. Only $50 million was budgeted for housing on all Manitoba reserves this year, and $150 million nationally.
Almost one-third of Manitoba’s indigenous people live in poor quality housing.
Crate said his community — considered one of the better ones in Manitoba — needs 200 new homes. This year they will be lucky to build 10.
Fisher River is 180 kilometres north of Winnipeg