Recent History – 2004-2006
By Gary Rusak, 25 July 2005
The visioning process for an Elders’ Housing Project was scheduled to continue this morning with an open meeting at the Nawican Friendship Centre.
“We are just basically trying to get a design and see where we are going to go with it,” said Sheila Hanshaw, project coordinator. “There is definitely a need for it.”
The Dawson Creek Native Housing Society is working to construct an Elder’s housing unit on a one-acre parcel of land off 17th Street across from the Willowbrook townhouses. In June, a group of Elders and officials from the housing society met with Ottawa-based architect Douglas Cardinal via teleconference to brainstorm ideas for the fledgling project.
“The Elders kind of let him know what they needed,” said Hanshaw. “He came up with a basic concept based on that. The next meeting will be to see if that is the way we want to go or if that needs to be changed. What we need to do is confirm what we need to build and what the land is capable of holding.”
According to preliminary drawings from Cardinal, the building will be “an eight-sided dwelling unit” with a living room space located in the centre. Cardinal’s notes describe the centre area as adhering to a “traditional layout” and being “expressive of the indigenous lifestyle.”
The first plans have space for three separate bedrooms but Hanshaw said the project is always evolving.
“We have the understanding that the land is capable of housing 14 units,” she said. “With that in mind we want to develop the project to hold the maximum, but I don’t know if we would be able to develop it all at once like that. We don’t have any cost yet because it is just a concept.”
The housing society will be looking at a variety of partnerships to help fund the project.
“I’m hoping that the federal government is going to loosen up the purse strings,” she said. “But, we do have some different avenues. We are hoping to partner with some of the other organizations like the Metis Provincial Council and the Northeast Native Advancing Society and different foundations. We are bound and determined that, one way or another, it is going to happen.”
Hanshaw said that she is looking forward to construction commencing on the project in 2006.
“We could have everything in place for construction for next year,” she said. “The thing is we need to be ready if there is any announcement of federal dollars. If everything goes as planned we are hoping that next spring would be groundbreaking.”
This article is taken from the Peace River Block Daily News, Dawson Creek, with the permission of the publisher. The Daily News retains all rights relating to this material. The information in this article is intended solely for research or general interest purposes.