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Lennox Island First Nation signs agreement with Habitat for Humanity

Aaron Brown, executive director for Habitat for Humanity Prince Edward Island and Chief Matilda Ramjattan, Lennox Island First Nation sign a memorandum of understanding which will see Habitat build at least five homes in the First Nation Community over the next three years.
Aaron Brown, executive director for Habitat for Humanity Prince Edward Island and Chief Matilda Ramjattan, Lennox Island First Nation sign a memorandum of understanding which will see Habitat build at least five homes in the First Nation Community over the next three years. - Eric McCarthy

Agreement will result in at least five new homes over next three years

LENNOX ISLAND

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Lennox Island First Nation and Habitat for Humanity Prince Edward Island, signed Thursday, will lead to the first ever Habitat for Humanity build on the First Nation community next year.

The MOU, says Chief Matilda Ramjattan, is “another tool in our toolbelt” for tackling the community’s housing crisis.

In putting the crisis in context, Ramjattan said when one home in her community recently became available, there were 30 applicants looking to move in.

While there are various agencies for the First Nation to turn to, Ramjattan is finding the agencies are often top-heavy on capacity building.

“You can know something all day long, but if you don’t have the tools and materials and supplies to build, there is no funding for that,” she described what she views as some of the roadblocks to meeting housing needs.

The first-ever Habitat for Humanity build on Lennox Island First Nation is planned for next year.
The first-ever Habitat for Humanity build on Lennox Island First Nation is planned for next year.


But she’s hopeful Habitat for Humanity can provide assistance.

P.E.I. executive director for Habitat for Humanity, Aaron Brown, said the MOU lays the groundwork for one build on Lennox Island next year and two in each of the following two years.

He said Habitat is also interested in doing some training in tandem with the builds.

“We’re hoping for a lot of buy-in and engagement from the local community,” he said. “A very important piece of this for us is going to be skills training for younger community members. We want to get young members of the community, or older members of the community who are interested in getting into construction, getting into the trades, out there working on a home with our professionals.”

“With the agreement,” Chief Ramjattan said, “what we’re saying to Habitat for Humanity is, ‘you can come into my community,’ but we also have certain rules and regulations around housing, land.’” Ramjattan said.

“That door has been opened, the council is aware of it; they want it to come true, to be able to tackle this situation, to add another tool to our tool belt.”

Jay Thakar, manager responsible for Habitat Canada’s Indigenous Housing Partnership, said the homes will be owned by the families through a certificate of possession which allows them access to a parcel of crown land. As with all Habitat builds, Thakar said the families will be directly involved in the building of their homes. “It is not uncommon for us to see our partner family will continue to engage in helping other families, as well,” she acknowledged.

While the MOU mentions five homes, Brown suggests that’s just a starting point.

“This is the road map we have laid out, but we have no intention of just coming up for the three years and disappearing; we want this to be an ongoing project with the First Nation in perpetuity. We don’t have an exit date or exit plan with this.”

Who will occupy the Habitat for Humanity homes will be determined prior to the start of construction. Ramjattan said the First Nation’s housing policy will be considered and, subsequently, Habitat for Humanity will be provided with a list and will work with the families to determine who qualifies for assistance.

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