A building competition finishes up at the Valhalla Inn Wednesday afternoon.
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For Muskrat Dam First Nation, the first step toward a successful housing program was getting organized.
Like many First Nations communities, Muskrat Dam deputy chief Gary Beardy said home-building supplies were shipped, and then sat in one big pile. Then around four years ago the community started organizing the pile and taking an inventory.
That idea was why the community of 350 won its first innovation award at the First Nations Northern Housing Conference.
“When you organize, you save money,” Beardy said.
Three years later Beardy, who oversees his community’s housing program, is winning another award. This time it’s for designing a three-bedroom home.
The program has built 20 houses in Muskrat Dam over the past few years. And the community has developed its own supply list to save even more money.
“We save quite a bit by doing this,” he said.
Beardy credits a young dedicated workforce in Muskrat Dam with helping to get his community housed.
“They work hard. They have set a standard to keep moving,” he said. “They care about their First Nation. They care about Muskrat. You have to care about your community.”
The next step is to get neighbouring communities on board so that they can buy building supplies in bulk. It’s one of the reasons Beardy was at the 11th annual conference that brings 80 communities together to discuss housing issues.
Housing co-ordinator Michael McKay said the main objective of the conference is to give communities skills and information.
“The information they receive here they take it back to their communities,” he said.
The three day conference at the Valhalla Inn ends Thursday.
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