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Wshkiigomang Singers: Janet McCue, Mary Alice Taylor,  and two new members, Kenni-Dee Leonhardi and Taylor Rose posed with Royal Patron, Peter Phillips before  the Habitat - Curve Lake partnership ceremony began  on Friday, July 28.

Habitat for Humanity and Curve Lake First Nation in partnership

 

August 4, 2017

 

BY TERRY GILLIS

 

On Friday, July 28, Habitat for Humanity representatives, Habitat’s Royal Patron, Peter Phillips, First Nation and Government dignitaries, Curve Lake Council and band members as well as key stakeholders and other invited guests filled the Curve Lake Community Centre for a special announcement on the details of the new partnership: Maawandoonan - Coming Together in Partnership- that will result in two new build projects at Nawash.

The Curve Lake project is one of 40 that Habitat for Humanity (Habitat) is currently undertaking through its Indigenous Housing Program. Habitat began its Indigenous Housing Program a decade ago, however, the program has picked up steam in the past two years, with houses being built at Tobique First Nation outside of Fredericton, and Gift Lake Metis Settlement in northern Alberta, in addition to the projects at Nawash, Curve Lake.

Friday’s invited guests were given the opportunity to experience and discover the beautiful and rich history and culture of Curve Lake as well as learn more about the  new partnership between the First Nation community of Curve Lake and Habitat for Humanity Peterborough & Kawartha Region.

Following an opening prayer, a few photo shoots with the Queen’s grandson, Peter Phillips, who is the royal youth build ambassador for the charity, lead into the speeches of a number of  guests.

Chief Williams took the opportunity to talk about the importance of water and the challenges the lack of drinking water poses to the community’s health and to tell the public that they are a “boil water community.”

“We need a future that is bright. We need a future with housing, yes, but we also need the water that is so sacred to us. We need the water for life,” Chief Williams said.

In her closing remarks, Williams said that “we’ll move forward in the collaboration effort for both the Habitat houses and with the community members to address our critical housing needs, and are excited by all the opportunities and the new connections that this relationship has already brought forth. We look forward to the amazing possibilities that will undoubtedly unfold from this partnership.”

Chairman of the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity Peterborough and Kawartha Region,  Brian  Kelly thanked Chief Williams and Council and staff for working with them for the past several months. “It has been an amazing process and they have been so supportive.”

Kelly finished his speech on a positive note saying, “we know it is going to be successful. We know these two houses are going to be successful, we hope it’s going to be successful for subsequent houses, and we think this is going to be a model for other First Nations communities.” The approximately two hundred people in attendance gave a loud round of applause.

MPP Maryam Monself, who was at an earlier Habitat event had attendees stand up and be recognized for the work, the efforts and the support they have contributed to the charity, the community, and the country.

MPP Laurie Scott followed Monsef and told guests that being “from the provincial parties and as an Ontario legislator, I think I speak on behalf of all the MPPs that we love Habitat for Humanity. We encourage the community to come together to build homes for those who will not have a home if we don’t help them.”

MP Adam Vaughan of Spadina-Fort York and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development (Housing and Urban Affairs) arrived late but spoke eloquently of the purpose of a house and the healing of community.

Two homes will be built on two lots provided by Curve Lake First Nation. Construction is expected to start in the fall and Habitat is now accepting applications from low-income, Indigenous families. More than 100 local youth are expected to take part in the build, alongside Habitat volunteers and Curve Lake community members.