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13th Annual First Nations

13th Annual First Nations Northern Housing Conference in Thunder Bay from February 10 - 12, 2015

  The First Nations Northern Housing Working Group (FNNHWG) was proud to   present the 13th Annual First Nations Northern Housing Conference (NHC) at the Valhalla Inn in Thunder Bay, ON.

Delegates attended from over 80 northern Communities will have the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of relevant workshops and seminars. Jonathan Salo, from Windigo First Nations Projects/Housing Technical Unit commented, “The impact of this conference is huge. It provides a unique opportunity for northern housing professionals and community leaders to learn from one another, network, and make important decisions about the housing in their Communities. There is simply no other event like it in Canada.”

This year the conference theme is Building Houses. Building Futures. Delegates will attend sessions on embracing First Nations sustainable development standards, fire prevention, wastewater, public health, and construction safety, alongside many other informative workshops. For builders, community leaders, and administrative staff alike, the First Nations Northern Housing Conference is the premier event in First Nation Housing in Canada.

On Day 1, the conference kicked off with Opening Ceremonies at 9 AM followed by a presentation from Larry Laviolette of Windigo First Nations Council on manufactured homes followed by a workshop on wood burning appliances and associate vent components. Day 2 will feature a tradeshow with a host of  exhibitors including vendors, suppliers, manufacturers and other housing professionals set up to share their offerings with the First Nation housing professionals in attendance. In conjunction with the tradeshow returns the always-popular Builder’s Challenge Competition, hosted by radio and television personality Jon Eakes. This year the Builder’s Challenge centers on building and installing decks and stairs. As always, contestants will attempt to complete a series of tasks quickly and most importantly correctly, to win the coveted title of Builder’s Challenge Champion.

A unique feature of the First Nations Northern Housing Conference is the Community Innovation Showcase Awards. Designed to highlight and recognize innovation and achievements in housing in First Nations Communities, this year the recipient is Naicatchewenin First Nation.  Naicatchewenin First Nation is being recognized for their outstanding work in ensuring safe and affordable housing for community members through the implementation of their comprehensive housing policy. Developed in the early 1990s, their effective housing policy has seen countless homes repaired, rented, and owned by members of the community. Naicatchewenin First Nation is inspiring other communities to work together to develop similar housing policies to achieve outstanding results.

Growing steadily over the last 13 years, the First Nations Northern Housing Conference has become the leading source for information in First Nations Housing. Mr. Salo added “It’s been incredible to see the information being shared here put to practice in First Nations Communities over the past decade. These Communities are so remote and often cut off from one another.  This conference makes it possible for everyone to share their collective knowledge. Housing practices are changing for the better, from small details to major construction.” Jonathan Salo, Projects & Housing Windigo First Nations of 7 communities “ We are trying to get the knowledge  to the communities they need to improve the housing, by providing  information they  need for any future housing with a focus on northern remote communities.  They have unique challenges, say related to transportation access. The communities of the north don’t always have access to the building professionals and the support. This  conference provides  an excellent avenue to get all the housing managers and front line staff  out there with suppliers  and those knowledgeable in the field.”

“ We are focusing on housing policies and codes, fire prevention, construction techniques and modular housing. We are basically  trying to get information to the communities and building the knowledge.”    “  We have a decent winter road this year and should see the majority of our materials make it up to the communities. Our ice roads are not as good as last year but pretty good.  In Windigo communities in general we are seeing improvement in the quality and what they are building in the communities. In an  average community size of 500 you will probably see 3 houses built and there is  an incredible back log. Also it is important to improve the quality of the build to make the house last longer.”

Luisa Atkinson, Director First Nation Housing for CMHC    “ I am interested in  meeting people, learning ideas and information on new technology. It is important  to build our partnerships with First Nations communities. It is very important to learn and share from others in this setting.” “ We work closely with Northern and Aboriginal Canada and help facilitate  quality of housing on reserves through training and funding. We have to do what we can to help communities. Things are improving year by year including maintaining their current portfolios.”

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