A collaborative effort between Tobique First Nation and Habitat for Humanity Fredericton, the two groups are working together to demonstrate that Habitat’s model of affordable homeownership can have a significant impact on the critical housing issues affecting Indigenous communities across Canada.

With all the hard work completed, today was a celebration as new Habitat homeowners Amanda and Phil, along with their two children, invited the community into their new home. It also happens to be the first house built in 13 years on Tobique First Nation, and a house that Amanda and Phil helped build and will pay for themselves.

Critical housing issues on reserves

While a good news story for Tobique First Nation, there are critical housing issues on reserves across Canada that need to be addressed. According to the Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation, in 2011 half of Indigenous families on-reserve lived in housing that required major repairs, and a third lived in housing where, in addition to repairs, families were overcrowded or precariously housed, spending in excess of 30 per cent of their income on housing.

This is a familiar story for Tobique First Nation's Chief Ross Perley, who has seen housing issues on Tobique First Nation exacerbated by the inability to build new homes.

“Not having the ability to build for the past 13 years has caused homelessness and overcrowding compounded over three generations of young adults”, said Chief Ross Perley. “That’s why this partnership is such a great opportunity for our community. This Habitat home has given our people hope in the community that someday they can own a house too.”

Coming back home

Amanda, born and raised in Tobique First Nation, had moved away from home to study and work, but with two young children she wanted them to live closer to her family, in the community where she was raised.  Amanda and Phil’s new Habitat home is around the corner from her mother, and their youngest son, who had been struggling while in school in Fredericton, is now thriving at the local school on this small reserve of almost 2500 people.

Tobique First Nation and Habitat for Humanity understand that affordable homeownership is an important way to empower families – owning your own home helps people build long-term financial benefits and better futures for themselves, their children and the community,” said Perry Kendall, Habitat Fredericton’s executive director.

Investing in affordable homeownership

For every dollar invested in a Habitat home, four dollars’ worth of benefits return to the community. Habitat homes provide stability; children do better in school and are more likely to pursue a post-secondary education – families and communities end up stronger and healthier. Habitat for Humanity Canada’s National Housing Strategy submission recommends that the federal government’s upcoming budget invest in Habitat’s affordable homeownership model to help families across the country access safe and decent housing.

Click here to find out more about Habitat Fredericton’s partnership with Tobique First Nation.