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2012 News and Views for the Friends of Habitat for Humanity Canada

Celebrating Hope Two Habitat families, 25 years apart

Building Back Better Shelter, skills and brighter futures in Haiti

Reaching New Communities Facing the overcrowding, unaffordability and dilapidated housing confronting many Aboriginal families

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A Message from our President & CEO

Imagine the Difference Tianna Gerrior didn’t feel safe leaving her cramped apartment at night for fear of what was going on outside. Her eight-year-old daughter, Sierra, couldn’t have friends over because there wasn’t enough space for them to play. A single mother, Tianna worked as much as she could at a nearby hair salon, but couldn’t get ahead – not enough to afford rent for an apartment in a safer part of town, not enough to even dream of one day owning her own home. At Habitat, these are the families we help. Those who are hardworking, but that no matter what they do, can’t break free of the seemingly inescapable cycle of poverty. What we give them is not a hand out, but rather a hand up – affordable ownership of a safe and decent home. A place where families can set down roots and put their focus on thriving, rather than merely surviving. Imagine how this would change Tianna’s life. She’d feel safer, not having to worry about what’s going on outside her door. She’d be more comfortable, with a home built to suit the size and needs of her family. She’d be able to save for the future, building equity in her home while benefitting from more manageable shelter costs. And for Sierra, well we all remember what our home meant to us at that age. It offered us the safety and security to be carefree, to thrive and become the people we are today. Last year, the lives of 227 families struggling to break the cycle of poverty began to be transformed as they moved into their Habitat homes built in communities across Canada. I’m happy


THE HABITAT SPIRIT Spring/Summer 2012

to report that Tianna and Sierra were one of these families, and I personally attended their emotional home dedication ceremony. But for many that partner with Habitat, including Tianna, the transformation actually begins long before the keys to their home are handed over. Habitat partner families contribute 500 hours of “sweat equity” into the building of their home; from framing walls to applying the last coat of paint, they’re there from start to finish. Proven time and time again is that this – working alongside Habitat volunteers who are there for no other reason than to help give them a hand up in life – can in itself be a lifechanging experience. With results like these, we’re often told that we’re doing a “good job”, but being committed to tackling Canada’s affordable housing crisis means that we must do even more. To start, we’re determined to build the same number of homes over the next five years as we have to date. Imagine the difference that will make for 2,000 more families who are currently struggling to get by. But as Thomas Edison once said, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration,” so now we must get to work. Will you join us?

Stewart Hardacre President & CEO Habitat for Humanity Canada

contents  dwell

Habitat for Humanity Canada News & Views

 Celebrating Hope

Two Habitat families, 25 years apart


ReStore: Dispose of Your e-waste in an Earth-friendly, Habitat-friendly Way

 Building Back Better

Shelter, skills and brighter futures in Haiti


Reaching New Communities Facing the overcrowding, unaffordability and dilapidated housing confronting many Aboriginal families

Global Village Canada

 Turns Seven

100 teams will travel to 30 countries to build homes this year

COVER : Alliana and her younger brother, Justin,

jump on their parents’ bed in the 2,000th Habitat home built in Canada. Story on page 6.

The Habitat Spirit, a publication of Habitat for Humanity Canada, seeks to promote communication, discussion and networking among Habitat for Humanity affiliates, volunteers and supporters.


477 Mount Pleasant Rd., Suite 105, Toronto, ON M4S 2L9 1.800.667.5137 Fax: 416.646.0574



The photos contained in this newsletter were provided courtesy of Habitat for Humanity Canada, its affiliates and HFHI unless attributed otherwise.

Soapbox Design Communications Inc. Cossette Inc. RR Donnelley HFHI

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Habitat for Humanity Canada News & Views

“People come to Women Builds feeling safe. They may have no building experience, but that’s okay. Everyone works together, collaborating and problem solving. It’s so rewarding to watch everyone become more confident in their skills” –Jan Smith, volunteer Women Build leader

WOMEN BUILDing homes Habitat Women Builds are not about excluding men, but are all about including women in the construction of Habitat homes, with the majority of the planning and execution of these homes undertaken by women volunteers. Women: consider getting involved in a Women Build project this year; there are 16 happening in communities across Canada – more than ever before – with nine in Ontario, three in Alberta, and projects also taking place in New Brunswick, PEI and Manitoba. Contact your local Habitat affiliate to find out where your nearest Women Build is being planned and do your part to help build more homes and more hope for local families in need of affordable housing.

Buy a Hammer, Build Our Community Buy a $2 paper hammer at your nearest The Home Depot store from May 31st to July 4th and you’ll be supporting the work of charities in your community, like your local Habitat affiliate. Last year’s campaign raised over $261,000 for Habitat and the building of affordable homes. Again this year, The Home Depot Canada Foundation has generously agreed to match the amount raised by the top performing The Home Depot store district. So, be sure to spread the word and buy one, or a few paper hammers so that we can build even more affordable homes for families and communities across Canada. Visit for more information.


THE HABITAT SPIRIT Spring/Summer 2012

EXTRAORDINARY SUPPORT Canadians answering the call of our National Leadership Council On National Housing Day, November 22nd, our National Leadership Council (NLC) officially launched. As their first act, they invited all Canadians to show their support of the building of safe, decent and affordable housing for low-income families by signing their name to our National Platform on Affordable Housing. In the days and weeks that followed, the outpouring of support was extraordinary, as 2,000 Canadians signed their name to our Platform, and tens of thousands of dollars were donated to Habitat. Since, the NLC has been working to further raise the profile of the affordable housing crisis in Canada and abroad, and has set out to raise an incredible $4 million this year so that the Habitat homeownership model, and the transformation it ignites, can be made available to more families than ever before. We would like to welcome Vi Konkle, President and CEO of The Brick Group, and Avi Kahn, President of the Hilti Corporation, who have joined as members of the NLC since its November launch, agreeing to lend their voice and influence to drive the commitments set forth in our Platform. Additionally, we would like to thank MCAP Service Corporation, who donated $5 for every signature to our Platform, and matched all donations made, up to a total of $20,000.


What Home Really Means Ten-year-old Edie Schnell’s award-winning essay benefits Habitat Southern Alberta A grade 4 student in Calgary, Edelawit “Edie” Schnell views her childhood a bit differently than most of her classmates. She lived in Ethiopia until she was seven years old, when she was adopted by a Canadian family. Edie thinks her perspective is what helped her come in first – out of 3,200 entries – in a national essay-writing contest. As the winner of the fifth annual Genworth Canada Meaning of Home writing contest, Edie got to choose a Canadian Habitat for Humanity affiliate to receive a $60,000 donation from the contest sponsor. She selected her local affiliate, Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta. “With all that I have been through, home is different to me than a lot of other kids,” Edie wrote in her winning essay.

“There’s a big difference between a house and a home,” Edie says, and wrote her essay to show that she has always felt the love of family, regardless of the shape of her shelter. The annual essay contest is open to students in grades 4 to 6. Five runners-up designated a Habitat affiliate to receive a $5,000 grant: Jacob Frigault: Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, Quebec Sofia Vavaroutsos: Woodbridge, Ontario Kate Barkhouse: Dartmouth, Nova Scotia Caitlin Sankaran-Wee: Vancouver, British Columbia Katie McDonald: Wellesley, Ontario Genworth established the Meaning of Home contest in 2007 to raise awareness among Canada’s youth of the importance of having a safe and secure home. The contest has led to students becoming more engaged and interested in writing, as well as more than $450,000 being donated by Genworth to more than 30 Canadian Habitat affiliates.

Hi! My name is Edie. I was born in Ethiopia and lived there until I was 7. In Ethiopia you do not have much food, water, clothes or shelter. Every day I would walk to the river and stand at the edge getting water in my bucket. Then I would walk all the way home with the bucket on my head so I could use the water to wash clothes, faces, dishes and give water to plants. At the end of the day I would use the water to make dinner. We would all sit together and have a great time! I did not go to school, only my brother did. In Ethiopia most girls stay at home and let their brothers go to school. There was a lot of love in my family but I was having a hard life. My Birth Mom told me that she was sending me to a place where they would take care of me better. When I was at the place, Mom adopted me and brought me to Canada to live a better life. Now I am in a perfect school with friends. I am in grade four and I have the best education I could possibly imagine. Water comes out of a tap and I know it is clean and safe. I am having a great life and I never want to leave it because of all the love everyone is giving me. With all that I have been through, home is different to me than to a lot of other kids. Home means a person, place or thing that makes you feel good when you are around them. It is a place where people love you and you love them back. Home means a person you can cry on when you are down. Home means a person you can tell secrets to. Home means a person you can jump up and down with when you are excited. Sometimes things in life can be hard but having a good home can make a difference.

Home means fun, love and care! Edie Schnell, Grade 4 Calgary, Alberta

Read About What “Home” Means to Them

To celebrate the Meaning of Home contest’s fifth year, and the thousands of heartwarming student entries that have been received to date, Genworth Canada has published the winning and runner-up entries from each year of the contest as a commemorative hard cover book. Get yours today – proceeds from book sales will help build affordable Habitat homes in your community! Visit

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On February 28th, exactly 25 years after the first Canadian Habitat home was dedicated to Habitat partners Gloria and Ernie just outside of Winnipeg, they met with volunteers, donors, Habitat staff and other key contributors for a roundtable discussion, everyone sharing in their experiences, their memories, their dedication. With the 2,000th family having moved into their home, also in Manitoba, just a month before, the event served as a time to reflect on some of the accomplishments of the past 25 years and what they’ve meant to everyone who made them happen.

Gloria and Ernie have plans to pass their home onto their son, Tim.

It really felt like my own home when I put the first nail in the wall to hang a picture and I didn’t have to ask anybody. – Gloria

Volunteers helping give a local family a “hand up” – 25 years later, the concept remains the same.

25 YEARS LATER Ernie and Gloria have proudly kept their Habitat home in the family for a quarter of a century. In fact, their Winkler, Manitoba home was the first ever to be built by Habitat for Humanity on Canadian soil. As a young couple, Gloria and Ernie were raising their two children in a small two-bedroom apartment. Homeownership was simply beyond their reach at the time, partly because Ernie struggled to work due to severe knee trouble; over the years he

required 21 knee surgeries and three complete knee replacements. “We’d really never dreamt of owning a home because of our health struggles,” says Gloria. Now mortgage-free, they have plans to pass the home onto their son, Tim, in two years. Tim hopes to one day raise a family of his own in the home he grew up in. He says he’s grateful for what the home has done for his family. “We didn’t have a lot of things other people had growing up, but we had a home and our own backyard,” he says.

Their oldest daughter, Christine, is now married and raising her first child in a home about half a kilometre down the road from her childhood house. This home has been a transformative experience for the family; it offered them a new beginning. Gloria says having their own home gave her children the chance to grow up happy and thrive. “We got that house and we never really looked back,” she says. Twenty-five years later they say selling it was never an option. “This home helped our family stay together,” says Gloria.

To watch a volunteer put a wall up or put siding up when they didn’t think they could is really exciting to see. – Vern Habitat Winnipeg Director, Construction

The 2,000th Habitat home in Canada (right unit) is a duplex joined with Habitat for Humanity Manitoba’s 200th.


Jeffrey now lives closer to work, leaving more time to spend with his family.

Rowena’s third child, Katelyn, was born just as the family’s new home was completed.

Our old apartment only had one room. Now we can enjoy family time together and individual time in our separate bedrooms. It’s made such a difference for our family. – Rowena

Every minute of the discussion was caught on film and will be available to watch at later this year.

When Rowena left the Philippines in 2006 to join her husband, Jeffrey, who had moved to Winnipeg a year prior, the climate wasn’t the only major adjustment for the soon-to-be mother. At the time, Winnipeg was experiencing some of the lowest apartment vacancy rates in Canada, combined with skyrocketing housing prices. Even working overtime on top of his 40-hour weeks as a painter, a cramped, poorly insulated one-bedroom apartment above a furniture store was all Jeffrey could afford for his expanding family. “Once my daughter was old enough, I got a job so we could rent a two-bedroom home,” said Rowena. “But I ended up spending almost all of what I made on daycare; I needed to stay home.” Rowena searched, but couldn’t find a better home for her family that she and Jeffrey could afford. At the time, she thought that homeownership was completely out of the question. “But then I found Habitat,” she said. “I couldn’t believe that they sold families a home without requiring a down payment, and wouldn’t charge interest on our loan. It was just what we needed.” After one more addition to the family, named Justin, Rowena and Jeffrey’s life changed with a phone call that came early last year – they’d been approved for a home.

REBUILD. REDECORATE. ReStore. Over 775,000 square feet of retail space is occupied by high-quality building supplies, home furnishing, appliances, and décor at Habitat’s 74 Canadian ReStores. Much of what is donated – customer returns, unused building materials, and no longer wanted home items – would otherwise be thrown out. We did the math, and last year alone, ReStores diverted about 21,800 tons of material from Canadian landfills.

Reg White A warm smile crosses his face as volunteer Reg White thinks back on the time he has spent working with Habitat for Humanity. Over a decade ago, along with members of the men’s group at his church, Reg spent a day working on a Habitat for Humanity build site. Since that day, he has become an active member of Habitat Newfoundland & Labrador. Habitat for Humanity’s tie to faith is what first attracted Reg to the organization, but it’s the rewarding experience of working with dedicated people that keeps him coming back. Reg is a jack-of-all-trades. Whether he is involved in the construction phase or putting in hours at the ReStore, Reg enjoys working with active volunteers who share his dedication to helping local families. As a familiar face at the local Habitat affiliate, Reg continues to pour his heart and soul into providing comfortable housing for local families in Newfoundland and Labrador. Thanks to great volunteers like him across Canada, Habitat is able to make the dream of homeownership affordable and achievable for many.


THE HABITAT SPIRIT Spring/Summer 2012

PLANNING YOUR NEXT HOME RENOVATION PROJECT? Consider what you can donate to, or purchase from, your local ReStore – all revenue generated will help build affordable housing in your community.

From e-Waste to brighter futures Do you have old, broken appliances and electronics taking up space in your house? If you live in Ontario, you can now dispose of these items in an earth-friendly, Habitat-friendly way! Working in partnership with the Ontario Electronic Stewardship program, select ReStores are now accepting over 185 different household appliances and electronics, ranging from televisions and computers to hair driers and humidifiers. The best part is, by recycling these items with Habitat, you’ll be helping build more affordable homes in your community! To find out if your ReStore collects e-Waste, or what items are accepted, visit

Transforming Communities, Coast to Coast When it’s broken down, providing a family with a Habitat home involves more than you may think. Key areas that local Habitat affiliates must perform include: • funding homebuilding that will remain affordable for low-income families while being environmentally sustainable; • engaging volunteers in planning and building homes, and in operating ReStores and affiliate offices; • ensuring volunteers are equipped to manage safe and productive build sites and other work environments; • and finding the best-suited families for Habitat homeownership, and then providing these families with training and assistance to ensure their success as they transition to homeownership. Consider that last year Habitat built 227 homes. That number represents up to 1,000 Canadian lives transformed, as the transition to a safe and secure Habitat home often brings with it improved health, education, and employment prospects for families that were previously struggling to get by. Further, when families’ prospects improve, entire communities are strengthened. Over the next five years, we’re determined to build more homes, transform more lives, and strengthen more communities than ever before. Our target: another 2,000 homes – the same number that we built in our first 25 years – and in order to effectively double the number of homes we’re currently building, we must strengthen our local operations in each of the key areas they must perform.

360 Partners

A STRONGER HABITAT FOR A STRONGER COMMUNITY: THE 360 BUILT SMART PARTNERSHIP In order for Habitat to be able to effectively address Canada’s affordable housing crisis, a holistic approach must be taken that addresses all aspects of the need for affordable housing, and operations of Habitat in communities across Canada. It was through this that the 360 Built Smart Partnership took shape. 360 drives support to communities in order to strengthen Habitat’s ability to perform in key areas, so that we can ultimately build more homes for low-income families and better serve the Canadian communities we work in.

HOW IT WORKS 360 builds our capacity to engage volunteers, adopt more sustainable building practices, reach out to families, build more local partnerships, and ensure our job sites are the safest they can be. To understand why this is vital in reaching our goal of building more homes and strengthening more communities than ever before, consider this: • A Habitat home takes about 5,600 volunteer hours to complete. In addition to a site supervisor, build days involve the participation of experienced volunteer crew leaders as well as build site volunteers who work under their direction. Establishing a system of volunteer management and training is absolutely essential when looking to expand the number of homes a Habitat affiliate builds. The Volunteer Engagement and Safety pillars of the 360 Built Smart Partnership make this possible. • By choosing the best-suited families for Habitat homeownership, entire communities can benefit. As families lift themselves out of the cycle of poverty and improve their health, education and employment prospects as a result of their affordable home, they reduce their reliance on healthcare and other social services while being able to meaningfully give back to the community. 360 helps our affiliates seek out and find the best-suited families in their communities for Habitat homeownership. Each of the pillars of 360 works this way, strengthening our operations and enabling us to better serve families and the communities we work in. Since the program launched in 2010, we are proud to report that thanks to your support, and the support of program partners like title sponsors The Home Depot Canada Foundation and Holcim (Canada) Inc., 63 projects have already been initiated across Canada. Please visit for more information and to donate.

RBC Foundation Schneider Electric Everyday Essentials

State Farm Insurance First Canadian Title Trialto Wine Group Ltd.

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Building Back Better


Habitat is best known in Canada for building new, affordable homes for low-income families in communities nationwide. But abroad, the distinct housing challenges faced in each of the countries Habitat works in – more than 80 in total – means that as an organization, we must innovate our approach to best suit the needs of each nation, while focusing on maximizing our impact. Nowhere has the need to innovate our approach been more evident than in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake. While Habitat for Humanity has worked to provide Haitians with housing solutions for over 27 years, all of the experience gained to date could not prepare for the devastation that struck on January 12th, 2010. The magnitude-7.0 earthquake that hit just 10 miles west of the capital, Port-au-Prince, left 1.5 million people displaced or homeless – their homes either severely damaged or completely destroyed. Immediately following the quake, there was an outpouring of support from Canadians, and we at Habitat for Humanity Canada were at work deciding how to best innovate our approach to help rebuild a nation in ruin.

Habitat Canada’s National Leadership Council, swinging hammers for Haitian families Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter with Habitat Canada volunteers, staff and National Leadership Council members in front of one of the Carter Work Project homes they built in Léogâne, Haiti.

2011 AND 2012 JIMMY AND ROSALYNN CARTER WORK PROJECTS Each year, Habitat’s most renowned volunteers, former U.S. President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, lead the annual Habitat for Humanity build bearing their name to bring attention to the need for safe, decent and affordable housing in partnership with low-income families. President and Mrs. Carter have faithfully given one week of their time each year since 1984 to help build Habitat homes and raise awareness around the need. The Carter Work Project has been held in countries around the world including India, Korea, The Philippines, Mexico, South Africa, here in Canada, and throughout the United States. For 2011 and 2012, both Habitat for Humanity Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Projects are focused on the Santo community of Léogâne, Haiti, where 500 Habitat houses will be built for Haitian families whose homes were destroyed by the 2010 quake. The 2012 build event will run from November 24th to December 1st.


THE HABITAT SPIRIT Spring/Summer 2012

Last November, members of Habitat for Humanity Canada’s National Leadership Council (NLC) travelled to Haiti as part of a team of Canadian volunteers that raised funds and built homes alongside the Carters and Haitian Habitat partner families. After their return, to further signify their support of Haiti recovery and the global need for adequate housing, the NLC set a $4 million fundraising goal to support Habitat’s ongoing work. Habitat for Humanity Canada’s National Leadership Council is made up of a group of Canadian leaders committed to using their influence to raise the profile of the lack of affordable housing globally.

Following the quake, the Haitian Government estimated that 80% of damaged homes could be safely repaired or retrofitted, while also being strengthened to be able to withstand future disasters. Here, an earthquake-damaged home in Simon-Pelé is being repaired and reinforced under the direction of an engineer by a local resident trained in construction techniques as part of Habitat Canada’s first rebuilding project.

Port-au-Prince, Haiti.



iven the scope of the need in Haiti, we determined that long-term change must involve empowering entire communities to rebuild their lives. In the Simon-Pelé neighbourhood of Port-auPrince, for example, our urban development project, Enabling Neighbourhood Revival in Haiti, is helping families improve their living conditions and gain access to critical services for their community of about 30,000. While Simon-Pelé has a vibrant commercial main street and strong social connections, its informal origins mean it lacks water, sanitation, sewers, latrines, solid waste disposal, street lighting, and social amenities such as schools and playgrounds. Many streets remain unpaved. Diseases such as cholera spread easily and often. As part of our urban development project, Habitat surveyed more than 6,000 households. The information collected is helping the community to better understand its needs and decide which projects take priority. Today, with support from our Habitat Resource Centre and under the supervision of local contractors, residents trained in construction techniques are implementing community upgrades including the installation of water points, street lighting and a septic system for the local health

clinic. Additional upgrades will include drainage and road improvements, and repairs of homes damaged by the earthquake. The 16-month project, funded by donations, generous support from the Larry and Cookie Rossy Family Foundation, and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), will be completed in September of this year and will have provided $2 million in total support. Later this year, a second Habitat Canada project will commence, this one focused on empowering Haitians in urban renewal and small business development. This project, Investing in People and Business in Haiti, will fill gaps that have been identified within Haiti’s construction industry, increasing the nation’s capacity, stimulating economic growth, and creating jobs. With these projects, our long-term vision is about much more than construction. It’s about empowering and supporting change for the benefit of entire communities. While we measure our progress by the number of families and individuals served, the impact of our urban development work can be seen in the transformation of not only lives, but whole communities. Check for news and updates on Habitat’s progress in Haiti, or to make a donation to Habitat Canada’s rebuilding projects.

Habitat for Humanity Canada projects (Enabling Neighbourhood Revival and Investing in People and Business in Haiti) undertaken with financial support of the Government of Canada provided through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

PROJECT OUTCOMES ENABLING NEIGHBOURHOOD REVIVAL IN HAITI, SIMON-PELÉ By September of this year, project outcomes will include: • 175 homes repaired or retrofitted • 100 sanitation facilities installed for up to 500 households • 10,000 community members educated on health-related issues • 100 pregnant women and 900 children under age five immunized • 10,000 emergency kits prepared for Community Disaster Response/ Evacuation Plan • Local companies and residents trained in repair, maintenance and reconstruction • Increased female representation in community development and reconstruction • Training for community members in financial literacy This urban development project contributes to Habitat for Humanity’s target of serving 50,000 Haitian families over five years with permanent houses, transitional and upgradable shelters, damage assessments, repaired and rehabilitated homes, emergency shelter kits, training, and job opportunities.

Habitat for Humanity Canada thanks the Larry and Cookie Rossy Family Foundation for their significant contribution to rebuilding projects in Haiti.

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Jesse in front of his Habitat-MCHC home at the dedication in Edmonton, Alberta on September 30th.

Reaching New Communities Overcrowding, dilapidated housing and general unaffordability are issues faced daily by many of Canada’s Aboriginal families, especially those living on settlements and reserves, where it’s been suggested that 49% of existing housing is in need of repair, and an additional 85,000 housing units are required to address the current supply shortage.


Since it launched with support from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), our Aboriginal Housing Program has sought to understand the distinct housing challenges faced by Aboriginal Canadians, while providing homeownership solutions to families in communities across Canada. As the program has grown, the impact that the Habitat affordable homeownership model can have on Aboriginal families and the communities they live in has become increasingly evident. Yet so has the immense housing need that this portion of the Canadian population is faced with. This great need must be met with even greater commitment, and it’s for this reason that we’re partnering with groups like the Assembly of First Nations and the Métis Capital Housing Corporation to create innovative solutions to this complex issue. Thanks to partnerships like these, and financial support from partners like CMHC, the PCL family of companies, RBC Foundation and the Tachane Foundation, the impact of this program on Aboriginal families and communities is now growing exponentially. 1

Assembly of First Nations estimate


THE HABITAT SPIRIT Spring/Summer 2012

COLLABORATING WITH SHAWN A-IN-CHUT ATLEO AND THE ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS On December 6th, Habitat for Humanity Canada and the Assembly of First Nations formally joined forces by signing a collaboration agreement set to increase First Nations’ involvement in Habitat projects and enhance opportunities for First Nations people to further their knowledge and skills, while adding to the housing stock. First Nations National Chief, Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, who has already pledged his personal support of Habitat by agreeing to become a member of our National Leadership Council, met with President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Canada, Stewart Hardacre, in Ottawa to sign the agreement. “I thank Habitat for Humanity Canada for inviting AFN to this partnership… this will enhance First Nations’ ability to explore new options to satisfy its housing needs,” he said. “Creating safer and healthier First Nations communities is one of our biggest challenges as First Nations leaders.”

Building Homes: IN URBAN CENTRES When the Métis Capital Housing Corporation (MCHC) determined they would have to sell a number of their rental houses in need of repair in order to generate funds to repair or rebuild others, Habitat for Humanity Edmonton proposed that MCHC instead provide the houses to Habitat Edmonton, for them to then renovate and sell back to low-income Aboriginal families through affordable no-interest Habitat mortgages. Rather than decreasing the housing stock available to Aboriginal families, this solution offered these families the long-term benefits and pride that come with homeownership. Habitat for Humanity Edmonton and MCHC expect to complete five homes annually under this partnership, using families’ mortgage payments to cover the cost of the continued revitalization.

WITHIN ABORIGINAL COMMUNITIES Aboriginal peoples have a deep spiritual, physical, social and cultural connection to their land, so building homes within Aboriginal communities must be undertaken with widespread support. Working closely with the Champagne & Aishihik First Nations near Whitehorse, Habitat for Humanity Yukon is planning to provide up to three housing units for low-income Aboriginal families, with construction starting as early as this summer. With First Nations Chief James Allen having expressed his community’s support of the project, Habitat Canada’s National Leadership Council will now set out to raise the $500,000 required to build the homes. Once the funds are raised, National Leadership Council members, along with Habitat for Humanity Yukon volunteers and the Champagne & Aishihik First Nations, will construct the homes for low-income families identified by the community and that meet Habitat’s normal partner family selection criteria.

Josh and April (centre of photo) with family members at the dedication of their Alderville Habitat home. Eager to reconnect with their Ojibwe culture, the two have since enrolled in language classes.

Building a sense of belonging The beat of traditional drums at the dedication ceremony for her new home drew tears from April Smoke – and enthusiastic applause from her five-yearold son, Josh. The house was the first ever to be built by Habitat for Humanity in a First Nations community, giving April and Josh the opportunity to live securely and stay connected to their cultural roots. April’s family had struggled with a cycle of poverty that she was determined to break. She moved to Windsor, Ontario to pursue post-secondary studies – 500 kilometres from the Alderville, Ontario reserve where she grew up. While she knew education was an important investment, the expense was a strain: all she could afford was a crowded house in an unsafe neighbourhood. Shortly after graduating, she heard that Habitat for Humanity Northumberland was looking to build in Alderville. Within four months of submitting her application she moved into a new home with her son, mother and brother.

April says the house was truly a community effort. “I was surprised by everyone’s generosity,” she remarks. “People I didn’t even know were coming out and lending a hand on the build site. I feel such a strong sense of belonging.” An important part of that belonging has to do with her Ojibwe heritage. April is eager to expose Josh to the rich history of their people and has enrolled them both in Ojibwe language classes. “We haven’t lived here that long and he’s already starting to understand that he’s part of this culture. Seeing him excited about it is really rewarding,” April says. She’s also happy that Josh has a place he can truly call home. Growing up in a single-parent family, she herself moved around a lot. “I wanted to plant roots and give Josh a life he could be proud of,” she says. April concludes that perhaps her happiest moment came when she overheard Josh tell someone that for his fifth birthday she was building him a house.

BLESSING MOTHER EARTH In Manitoba, the regional Habitat affiliate now offers a traditional ground blessing ceremony to all of its new Aboriginal homeowner partner families. The first of these ceremonies was held in September at the 612 Talbot Avenue build site in Winnipeg, where Habitat homeowners, Dave and Cora, followed an Elder through the traditional blessing of Mother Earth. Also present at the ground blessing ceremony was Winnipeg district manager of the PCL family of companies, Sean Barnes. PCL not only funded this Habitat home, but also provided the skilled labour and building materials, making their contribution to the project nearly $200,000. Check for news and updates on Habitat’s Aboriginal Housing Program, or to make a donation to help build brighter futures for Canadian Aboriginal families

Lead and Founding National Partner Aboriginal Housing Program

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Global Village Canada Turns Seven Sitting here at 37,000 feet, anticipating meeting the group I’ll soon build a house with for a family in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa, I can’t think of a better time to reflect on where we’ve come over the last seven years.

UPCOMING OPPORTUNITIES TO TRAVEL WITH PURPOSE, WITH GLOBAL VILLAGE Guatemala July 21 – 29 Cambodia July 22 – August 5 Portugal August 5 – 15 Bolivia August 18 – 26 Visit for more trips and info.

On the journey home from a 2004 build in Mexico, a group of dedicated Habitat volunteers and staff had a vision, a vision for a Canadian program that would send volunteers around the globe to build homes for the less fortunate – a vision that became Global Village Canada. At the time, no one quite understood how strong Canadians’ desire was to go beyond writing a cheque to do good. In the three short years that followed, we quadrupled the number of Canadians travelling abroad with Habitat, and now seven years in, we’re planning to send over 1,500 volunteers to 30 countries worldwide to build safe and decent homes for families in need. As wonderful as the last seven years have been, the future is looking even brighter. Seven is a great age! Full of wonder and energy, seven-year-olds have the world by the tail with nothing but promise ahead. For our Global Village program, that means increasing our number of volunteer teams and homes built for partner families. It means providing more impactful, life-changing experiences for our volunteers. It means offering more build opportunities, including trips to work with Habitat affiliates across Canada, including those partnering to build homes within Aboriginal communities. Our volunteers, our team leaders, our donors, and the staff of Habitat for Humanity worldwide are all important parts of our success. I would like to thank everyone who has made the last seven years so special. Over 8,000 volunteers have built over 600 homes, and over $3 million has been donated. Each time a Global Village team steps into the developing world, lives are changed forever: the lives of the families previously in need of a safe and secure place to live, and the lives of the volunteers who selflessly answered the call. The volunteers I am about to meet will come from all walks of life, like most GV teams, but will all work hard over the next week and a half. The days will be long; it will be rigorous, dirty, but tremendously fulfilling work. We will build the best home we can – a place where a family can be safe and without a leaking roof or parasites in the walls. We will work with them to build a future with security and dignity. Rick Tait Global Village Program Director Habitat for Humanity Canada


THE HABITAT SPIRIT Spring/Summer 2012


National Partners The key to Habitat for Humanity Canada’s success is the generous contributions we receive from our corporate, foundation, individual and government partners. Thank you to all of them. And a special “thank you” to our committed multi-year partners; your long-term investment helps us plan into the future and better achieve our mission to build sustainable communities across the country. To view our complete donor list, visit To learn more about partnership opportunities, contact Matthew Gustafson at (416) 644-0988 ext. 352 or LEGACY PARTNERS

(Multi-year Partners)


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(Single Year Partner)


Tachane Foundation

(Multi-year Partners)


(Multi-year Partners)


(Multi-year Partners)

(Single Year Partners)

To donate, participate or advocate, visit



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THS: Spring 2012  

The Habitat Spirit, a publication of Habitat for Humanity Canada, seeks to promote communication, discussion and networking among Habitat fo...