Indigenous youth program builds community

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Indigenous youth program builds community

In October 2018, grade 12 students at Senator Allen Bird High School in Prince Albert, Sask., were hard at work building an eco-friendly greenhouse for Camp Hope, a recovery centre at Montreal Lake Cree Nation that facilitates First Nations healing.

The students got their hands dirty as part of the Montreal Lake Greenhouse 101 Project, facilitated and fundraised by non-profit group Focus Forward for Indigenous Youth (FFIY).

The project was supervised by Co-op Contractor’s Choice member Your Choice Homes Inc. (YC Homes). YC Homes has pioneered the Construction Worker 101 Program, which gives students real-life experience, apprenticeship hours, high school credit and even a paycheque.

Jay Noel, who is in charge of business development at YC Homes, recognizes the role that educating students plays in meeting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action. The company worked with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) on a Memorandum of Understanding regarding education, and received encouragement from the organization.

During the program, Noel tremendous growth in the students' technical skills and personal development. They were involved in every process it takes to build a home, including framing, pouring concrete and roofing. YC Homes contractors guided students through techniques and processes, including proper power tool use.

“When they learn how to use the power tools they gain confidence and are no longer intimidated or timid,” he explained.

Noel said Lake Country Co-op has been nothing but welcoming and genuinely good at offering help when needed. With a similar philosophy of community involvement, Lake Country Co-op supplied building materials for the greenhouse.

“We see value in giving back and hope to continue the partnership,” said Lionel Marbelle, Lumber Manager at Lake Country Co-op’s Prince Albert Home Centre.

As the project neared completion, YC Homes saw a positive impact on the local community, and a lot of encouragement from community elders. With success in communities throughout Western Canada, YC Homes is excited to grow the Construction Worker 101 Program and reach many other high school students interested in careers in the trades.

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