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Habitat Niagara and Mohawk College teach construction skills to Indigenous youth

Back in February, Niagara Peninsula Aboriginal Area Management Board’s (NPAAMB) Building Futures Indigenous Youth were working to build a Habitat house in Port Colborne however the pandemic put a halt on the continuance of the cohort resuming the build due to person limitations, physical distancing and other new safety measures.

But that didn’t stop the NPAAMB/Habitat Niagara partnership from continuing, the Building Futures program was redesigned for students to learn in a module-based warehouse environment while practicing the COVID-19 safety measures put into place by the team.

This revised program takes place in a large warehouse and students are placed into teams of four with instructors from Habitat Niagara and Mohawk College teaching them all the skills it takes to build a house from the ground up.

“It’s a better learning environment from start to finish,” said Trevor Dunscombe, Jobsite Coordinator with Habitat Niagara. “They’ll go through all the tasks it takes to build a house from pouring concrete for a foundation, to framing, installing a roof to hanging drywall, insulating and so on.”

NPAAMB provides funding to Habitat Niagara, Mohawk College and the YMCA to implement and oversee the Building Futures program.

“The students get credits from Mohawk College for completing the program,” explains Alex Mickeloff, Mohawk College instructor. “They’ve never been able to pour a foundation before, its really cool they can now.”

The students’ final project will be building a shed that will be donated to one of Habitat Niagara’s ReStores to be sold (proceeds from the ReStores provide financial support to Habitat Niagara’s mission).