By: Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

This summer eight high school students and five apprentices from Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation in Southend have participated in the Housing through Education program.

These students and apprentices have acquired Construction Safety tickets through a 12 week Practical and Applied Arts program. They also took part in an apprenticeship exercise on learning how to construct homes for members of the community.

Councilor for Southend Nelson Morin of the PABC said the project has been beneficial to the community.

“It’s very good for our housing needs because they are very short of houses,” Morin said. “I tried this program, (and) nobody had ever done this program. They really doubted me when I first started it because I’m a new politician.

“We have been trying it for years and it didn’t really happen, but I had a good team here back home that’s really helped me with this program.”

Craig Larson from Southend is the Journeyman/ mentor from the community who teaches hands on skills. Morin credited Larson and others for making the program a success.

“Without my team here I wouldn’t have been able to do it,” Morin said.

The program gives opportunities to local carpentry students who need hours for their apprenticeship programs. They also give local students a chance to see what the trades are about.

Jayson Noel of Your Choice Homes (YCHomes), the business that runs Housing through Education, developed the program at the request of the Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Commission (SATCC). The goal was to increase the number of apprentices in carpentry.

“We looked at the blueprint (and) we turned it into a curriculum,” Noel said. “The high school students have an in-class portion, which is online and they learn each step of the build, which is a career option. The only difference between the tiny homes build and the tiny log cabin build is the fact that the framing is logs instead of your traditional 2 x 4 and drywall.”

PBCN Southend teamed up with YCHomes to deliver this program to the community. Anthony Short is the program manager from YCHomes who helped create this learning experience. Students will receive a high school credit and future apprenticeship hours through Saskatchewan Youth Apprenticeship SYA. The apprentice will also receive hours to top their blue book.

Noel said the program has helped build bright futures for the apprentices and students who are involved.

“It has opened their eyes to future opportunities in the ticketed trades and the non-ticketed trades,” Noel said.

The buildings themselves are something to behold, according to Noel.

“These are traditional log cabins with a wood stove. They are beautiful, they turn out just beautiful,” he said.

Both Morin and Noel pointed out that the program has assisted with housing issues in Southend.

“It’s going towards (reducing) homelessness in the community,” Noel said. “It is going to be a transitional house where members that are homeless can have a home in transition to another one.”

“We have 4,000 people and we only have like 800 houses, and there is a lot of people that are 45-years-old that still live with their parents,” Morin added.

Everyone involved has gained from the project in a positive way. The community of Southend has supported this project to encourage community building, community pride and building a family home.

The students that took part received high school credits and valuable work experience in the Trades and contributed meaningfully to our community.

“It’s great in terms of affiliation to have an outside business teaming up with the band office and also for the youth looking at their future and the opportunities that could be ahead,” Noel said.

Noel noted that the students and apprentices all gained from sacrificing their summer for the project.

“Just seeing the excitement and the enthusiasm in the students and the apprentices, they are looking towards building their futures,” Noel said.

The PBCN thanked the SATCC for funding the project and they see this a good step moving forward.

(Photo submitted by Jay Noel of YC Homes)