Christmas was special for six families of Gift Lake Metis Settlement when they received the keys to their new homes built by Habitat for Humanity.
“I express my gratitude to Gift Lake and Habitat for Humanity for giving us an amazing opportunity,” says Shelly Laderoute, who spoke on behalf of the six families at the dedication ceremony Dec. 19.
“I never thought this would happen.
“Being a renter for many years, I will now pay for my house I own.”
The younger generation welcomes the joy of a new home.
“I’m excited about my new home,” says Seth Calahasin, 16, who spoke on behalf of the children of the families.
“Home means a lot to me and I can’t wait to have my own bedroom.”
Six single detached five-bedroom houses with two storeys were completed by volunteers to fill the growing needs of the community, after construction started in fall 2015.
“If it weren’t for Habitat for Humanity, we would not have these homes,” says Howard Shaw, who chairs the settlement council.
Those are the first homes to be built in Gift Lake since around 2003, he adds.
“I see nothing but benefits moving forward,” Shaw says.
“Habitat for Humanity may be back to build more homes, and I see Gift Lake getting more units.”
Shaw notes the project is in the third year of a 10-year plan with Habitat for Humanity, the General Council of Metis Settlements and the Province of Alberta to build 100 homes in the eight Metis Settlements in Alberta.
That currently includes six each in Gift Lake and East Prairie, eight in Elizabeth and four in Kikino.
“If we didn’t have Habitat for Humanity approach us, we wouldn’t have these new homes for young families,” Shaw says
Habitat for Humanity seeks to reach out to communities to meet housing needs.
“Thank you for having this new insight into this new concept of housing,” says Alfred Nikolai, president and CAO of the international, non-governmental, and nonprofit organization, which was founded in 1976, a self-described “Christian housing ministry” that addresses the issues of poverty housing.
“Getting your own home is something that should be cherished.
“We’re trying to help families build a better future.”
Metis Settlements General Council is delighted with the development.
“Today, we are seeing a lot of people wanting their own homes,” says president Gerald Cunningham, former council chair of East Prairie.
“We will continue to build homes because there is such a demand and need.
“I trust Gift Lake will plan to want and build more homes.”
Families were selected by Habitat for Humanity by applications, with a set of standards, that the household income range from $25,000-$90,000, with at least one child under-18 living in the home.
Applicants were reviewed and awarded by a selection committee of the general council.
Partner families purchase the homes from Habitat for Humanity with 500 hours of sweat equity and then pay an interest-free mortgage with payments that do not exceed 25 percent of their household income.