The following report presents summary notes and verbatim responses to the conversation questions with members of One House Many Nations.
Conversation Questions and Answers
1. How are the changes to our community’s environment and economy that we discussed in the introduction affecting you, your family or the community as a whole?
Participant 1 (P1): We were one of the first communities to host One House Many Nations. Big River, where Sylvia’s is, was the first one where we started by building one house and then we started developing the concept more as a systemic solution in terms of the connections between the economy and the environment. One of the big things is the increased level of resource extraction in the boreal region, such as impacts of clear cutting. In our territory we have to purchase wood from another area. The extreme weather fluctuations, melting perma frost, forest fires and the drought, have led to a certain kind of beetle and other insects and the birds that eat them, coming in that we haven’t had in the past. That has impacted the access to materials and even to land because there are huge areas that has been decimated by fire. There are also areas that have been decimated by the beetle and that that wood is ruined and we can’t use it for for housing, firewood or anything else.The other thing is just the unpredictable melting and freezing cycle when, in the past, you can kind of predict when it’s safe to go on the rivers or the lakes and now that’s that you can’t predict because it’s so variable. There have been increased restrictions to access traditional foods and access to travel for visiting or for ceremonies or for cultural events or for work. Along with that, as well, increased during covid is an increased occupation by corporations such as Ducks Unlimited. They have kind of snuck in while while people have been isolated due to covid. They’re doing infrastructure work by making new dams and channels and things like that, without any kind of community consultation and often in conjunction with Manitoba Hydro. We’re feeling a lot of those impacts
There seems to be an increase in homelessness in the area community of The Pas with not necessarily OCN band members, but people from neighboring communities that come in for medical or come in because they’ve been relocated because of fires or flooding. There’s a higher street population, and then there seems to be kind of addictions with that street population. Those are all kind of linked and then just lack of access to the basics that humans need.
P2: Just as a reflection on some early days of our contact with remote FN Communities: the issue of ice roads. One of our goals was to do project-based skills development in two remote First Nation communities. That is, to design and build sustainable houses with communities and one of the challenges is that the communities are only accessible by air or by water, so the concern now is the ice roads that we might need to use to bring up building materials. Of course, part of the idea is also like Alex was mentioning, to explore if we can use local materials by, for example, developing the capacity to harvest and mill local wood locally. However, generally speaking, anything we need to bring from outside of the Community, has to be done using on ice roads. That means the ability to build in the summertime is impacted by the viability of those ice roads during the wintertime. So earlier melts and unpredictable roadway conditions, makes those communities even more inaccessible to bringing in material for building.
- I’m a registered Indian for Whitefish Lake Reserve #118 (Big River First Nation), located in central Saskatchewan
- With climate changes, we are seeing more wood ticks and warm weather creatures invading our hunting lands and lands in general. In nehiyaw collective memory, no wood ticks ever lived on Treaty 6.
- The wood ticks are affecting the moose because they scratch and scratch against trees removing their fur – they become skinny and diseased.
- Mad cow disease is spreading to the deer in our area, again affecting our traditional food because now people are not hunting them.
- A brown recluse spider was reported in Regina as well as rattlesnake near the city but these could be one time incidents and could be from transport – it could be climate change. It’s something to watch out for.
- Generational medicines grounds are disappearing and no longer producing medicines, we are having to go further and further to find them encroaching on other nations’ lands.
- The moss that produces and nourishes muskeg tea has been really dry the past couple of years – muskeg plants are not as abundant.
- Some years back, the bears had been attacking humans which is unnatural but not unheard of. However, in our ceremonial lodges my people in the region I belong to were told to be careful because the bears were not themselves – the chemicals sprayed and environmental changes on lands were affecting their minds.
Some of our concerns relate to what other indigenous peoples in their territories observe. I’m in Treaty Six Territory, west-central Saskatchewan, south of the forest fringe area. In this area, we recently experienced severe drought. We already live in an extreme climate zone with high and low temperatures depending on the season. It can be -40 in the winter and now recently can reach +30 in the summer. However, with the drought and heat, we now see record highs in the summer, which tend to be higher in overcrowded homes without adequate cooling.
Land-based users are also observing the landscape change gradually over the last few decades. However, certain medicines are not growing in certain areas or are significantly stunted due to drought. The land is extremely dry, and the concern now is if we see compounded droughts and heatwaves over time, what can the long-term impact be? There is an ongoing climate risk that many are feeling vulnerable to when highlighted.
This drought also highlights some housing problems we have. Yes, there is a housing shortage and crisis. However, the type of homes built also needs to be considered. With the drought and the increase in forest fires, we noticed that some families did not have any means of cooling off in overpopulated homes while staying safe and limiting exposure to forest fire smoke which becomes a concern for the elderly and infants. We need homes that can cool, stay warm, and filter air. The majority of homes being built today in this region do not have a basement. A basement could provide some cool spaces for families to rest in a cool location and provide storage and storm shelter for more climate change-aware families who want to address their vulnerabilities.
We also observed some homes didn’t have air filtration to clean air due to the forest fire season. They also didn’t have air conditioning. It was an uncomfortable struggling summer for some families and overcrowded homes arm and even when the air quality index was severe. They had no place to go like they had had their windows open; otherwise, it was too hot. So housing and climate change do tie together in multiple ways.
Also, as a result of colonialism in general, the land has been dramatically impacted, and climate change poses additional risks. For example, the undergrowth in our area is concerning, and drought is creating a significant fire risk in our site. One hundred fifty years ago, because of the buffalo population, which tended to mitigate undergrowth simply by their vast migratory patterns, we were seeing more dense undergrowth in valley systems. Grass and wildfires pose a significant threat to some homes in our communities, and if we were two lose 2-4 houses, we likely would not recover or rebuild those homes for several years, which displaces 2-4 families. They could leave the community or find homes with their extended families, leading to additional overcrowding.
Also, we realized we don’t have a fire department, I know some communities do, but we don’t. And it’s hazardous that we don’t even have a means of clearing undergrowth efficiently around vulnerable homes, Which means the family will have to do it themselves. Where do we get the financial support to maintain a fire department? Basically trying to address risk leads to multiple issues being uncovered.
Chronic Wasting Disease in deer is also a significant concern and more so during the pandemic when families had to turn to subsistence hunting as a way to secure food. CWD emerged from cervid farms and is moving in. Again, tied to colonialism and is also likely linked to climate change because deers now congregate in areas with water available during a drought leading to CWD contamination in those areas, likely increasing spread.
Also, based on the last few years of forest fire and heat, we are trying to get families and households to invest in technology that can help, and it is leading us in the direction that we also need sustainable systems in our homes. We recognize that energy use will increase for air conditioning and ai filtration on a broader scale. However, it’s just like harm reduction for some people’s survival mode. It gets what we can get right now to Protect the lung of children and older people.
P2l: I’ll just try to be quick because I wanted to jump in where P7 might have. What P3 and P4 and we’re talking about reminded me of a conversation we recently had with another indigenous scholar. So I am relaying someone else’s experience. On Monday Myrle Ballard was talking about her First Nation Community, Lake St. Martin, that was displaced by flooding. That Community was evacuated for eight years to Winnipeg and now is being relocated. Talk about economic impact! That is what I’d like to underscore about P3 and P4 comments about connection to land and how the relocation of that Community back to a location that’s not their land is happening because of climate change. Muriel said that they’re now building a diversion channel that’s going over top of Lake Manitoba, and it’s going to flood natural nesting grounds of local birds that they honor and maybe use as part of food source. The relocation of that Community was the result of a major weather event, and these are a part of climate change. It is also a thing about colonialism that they were displaced for four years and they didn’t get a choice about whether to be relocated from their land. I cannot imagine what it must be like to be displaced for four years and then be relocated to a completely different location. Where do you work? Where do your children go to school? Where is all that land-based learning to come from like medications and heritage of where you come from? Of course, this story is not my personal experience, but I do want to make sure it’s part of the conversation because of displacement during climatic events like that are significant to FN Communities. You may want to follow up with Muriel Ballard as she just got a SSHRC research grant to examine that topic. I think it’s really important to note that this kind of displacement and relocation away from the land is happening. It’s really horrible for FN communities who are very connected to their traditional territories.
P5: I can echo also some experience working with remote Northern First Nations communities have been disrupted by climate change including issues around food security with respect to being able to hunt on traditional lands and where the hunting patterns are. For example, where the caribou are moving has shifted dramatically, so the hunting seasons have moved from where they always have been. Those hunting patterns are changing and people are going out for longer and longer to follow the herds wherever they go. And that’s had an impact on the local community, the resources, the economies, the relationships, I mean it ripples through the Community in a lot of different ways. Around the challenge of climate change, with respect to the durability of the ice roads for such remote communities that rely on heating sources being brought up to them and fuel tanks and trucks. And so, when you have roads that are not durable or surviving shorter cold winter seasons, that dramtically impact the ability for a community to have fuel regularly arrive when needed. And there have been situations several times, where that has been disrupted, because they couldn’t get fuel to the communities that oil specifically and then you have massive heat. shortages and other words people the some of the few houses that have wood stoves become the backup and then they become incredibly overcrowded very quickly when there’s no heat and some of the houses that have new oil. I know that some of the communities are working to get off grid to return to biomass and geothermal. Mylan hit the nail on the head when he was talking about the heating degree days becoming much greater and longer lasting. I know here in Manitoba we’re moving from. I think just about two weeks of plus 30 degrees in the summer to moving towards three months of plus 30 degrees in the summer. In the next 25 to 35 years and that’s not a long time that’s less than the generation. Unless people have the resources and the houses can’t cool the cooling themselves in passive way.
P5: I would say that. I think that climate change effectively is proving what indigenous people have been saying for generations now, which is about the inappropriateness and the fragility of colonial systems of dominance that only take from the land. I would suggest that the future is fundamentally behind us. The teachings that Indigenous elders and knowledge keepers share are teachings for the future – but rooted in millenia of finding balance with the earth. Any possible future that can provide balance for Indigneous communities must be rooted in Indigenous world views, Indigenous priorities, Indigenous resources and Indigenous economies so i’d suggest that the word economy is maybe not the economies that I would say is the pathway to the future paradigms that will work. I do think that we have to also remember the past, to be able to go forward.
2. We’re here today to talk about how climate change and income security are connected, to each other and to our community’s resilience. How are these environmental and economic changes related to each other?
This question is intended to be a group brainstorm on the ways in which climate and income are linked. You may wish to start by providing some examples for participants to make connections between, eg: how do heatwaves have different effects on people with different levels of income?
P6: Reserve communities need jobs and homes. Youth (18 to 35 years) have employment at 20% – so that is 80% unemployment. But youth all want to learn and work but need that opportunity. Paying youth for project-based learning provides capacity but also provides homes (or food). Payment for training programs if small or short-term should allow the continuance of welfare – as people need security of housing and payment of bills (electricity) and realizing many youth have children they need to feed and that the costs of food, clothing, gas and heat are much higher in rural communities. So funding for youth in training on reserves is key to prevent homelessness and other negative outcomes.
For example, Mino Bimaadiziwin homebuilders program was a college program with some small training allowance for 70 students through Anokiiwin Training Institute providing the training and OHMN support and input with Alex and Jason visiting. The college program had students engaging in design, logging, forestry management, sawmilling and building the home.The building of three homes (was supposed to be four) in Island Lake did use local wood materials, which provided some resilience. They had most of the materials but the design and training would have to change further to make use of all the local material. The housing design did change for not only these houses but all community house designs to include a wood stove as a necessary back-up in case the power-lines go down.
In 2019 the winter road stopped abruptly in early March which meant the big massive trucks with building materials did not have time to get up that year. So although we had the students we did not have other building materials, equipment and tools to do the work, etc.– but they learned many things and grew as a team. 70 students did received a regular training allowance and obtained lots of certificates that improved their employability.They showed holistic positive outcomes. See https://mspace.lib.umanitoba.ca/handle/1993/36308 “Pre- and post-program evaluation surveys were analyzed, along with public program accounts and other literature, to measure whether the program moved participants towards a good life. The McNemar analysis for 45 of 70 (64% response rate in post-test) students showed a positive, statistically significant increase in the students’ assets, including better social relationships, cultural development, financial advancement, housing improvements and certification of human resources. The students reported that the program: “saves lives,” mends families, builds homes and creates resilience to COVID-19 impacts. This evaluation suggests that investing in Indigenous-led, post-secondary education improves multiple aspects of students’ lives towards Mino Bimaadiziwin, which is an Anishinimowin word for a good life as destined by the Creator. These positive impacts from Indigenous-led education occurred despite the program being underfunded and COVID-19 lockdown that required shutting down the program early. Both community and individual student benefits resulted from this community-based education program. This study’s results support the transformative potential of investing in culturally appropriate processes and designs for housing and education in First Nations to address overcrowding on-reserves and facilitate Indigenous peoples’ participation and achievement in post-secondary education.” We are trying to get that research published in a special edition of ANSERJ as community-led project-based house building -as this builds resilience where people learn to use and build with local materials for the local situation.
Not only do we need to build homes, there is a huge need to build youth capacity to design/resource and build homes on First Nation reserves and turn that into jobs. This needs an investment in apprenticeship programs in every (or most) on-reserve secondary schools (e.g., carpentry, welding, food preparation, horticulture) and community college infrastructure (some space, equipment, tools, materials and internet) and funding for students. Youth on reserve, particularly in fly-in, northern and/or rural communities, there are few post-secondary opportunities and the few require they leave their communities and families to face horrible racism. First Nation-led community colleges that are ready to work on community issues – housing and food and other needs- with funding for projects (e.g., housing) and student training allowances would provide the resilience these communities need. It is important to build wifi computer networks for these communities with free wifi. These communities had a hard lock down not allowing people out of their houses or into/out of their community – which held people back from finishing their education. People in Garden Hill First Nation had to repeat their year in secondary school due to the lack of connectivity and lockdown providing limited opportunity to educate.
To further discuss Shauna’s mention of fly-in communities that lack all weather roads. They are very vulnerable to climate change- which resulted in lack of gas for vehicles and lack of building materials. More changes to design and locating houses to be able to innovate with local resources for insulation, interiors, etc. considering the clay, rock, wood, peat and other nature there. A plan to build a year-round access road to urban centres is also needed.
Wasgamack youth as part of their students did a proposal that salvaged their old school to be a community kitchen/restaurant and making this an emergency centre powered by solar and heated by biomass could provide a key to their resilience in case the power lines go down. Every community I believe needs a resilience centre like this – taking the school and the health centre and building in solar, biomass heating, food production/serving and learning. The power goes out frequently on reserve. When the powerlines went down in the ice storms in 2019 in October with 3000 powerlines damaged – the reserves were the last fixed. The Interlake reserve communities which were just back from eight years of displacement – were displaced again for three weeks without any safe resiliency centre and were not the priority to be fixed by Manitoba Hydro.
We also need to develop food farms like Meechim Farm and the University of Manitoba Kitigay educational program at the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation – with supports from universities and college.
3. What are some possible solutions to the challenges we’ve discussed that will help the community respond to climate change and create income security for all community members?
P4: One way to get to solutions is to think about the panoramic view around the problems we face. As I said, climate change is playing out in multiple sectors and again how it’s tied to colonialism and settler colonialism. Like that has to be measured and considered when we have these conversations and increasing. Secondly, we need to create diverse teams. A cool thing about One House Many Nations is that we’re a very diverse team, so we’re thinking about how these problems exist and are continually maintained by systems in three-dimensional ways. It’s not just a frontal perspective. I feel this approach doesn’t necessarily happen in other sectors of governance and planning. So from the practical application of the team’s strategy, we continually build to find root causes, identify the existing problems, and try to bypass them to create something. All this happens while at the same time centring on indigenous peoples and paradigms. For me, it is centring our grassroots people who have the autonomy to move forward and solve these problems together in the way they, the community, see fit. We do not prescribe solutions; we work to help facilitate the solutions.
P1: I can add to that, too.. One of the issues is that a lot of our communities are constantly in crisis mode. And so we’re forced to respond to a situation. Many indigenous communities have this idea or this concept of thinking ahead to X number of generations (usually 7) but right now I don’t think many actually are able to do so because of the need to respond to crises. Linking to what Mylan was saying about a systemic approach to solving rather than trying to respond. The systemic approach should center Indigenous knowledge, especially around land and our understandings of land and how it’s changing. And so here’s an example from OCN and Jason can probably expand on this, but we’ve been working on some housing ideas and concepts. One of the projects is a net zero home. In order to get even a quote for who’s going to build it it couldn’t be done within the Community. The capacity wasn’t there.So, then, we have to go further to Saskatchewan. The price quote for that house compared to a regular stick frame was two or three times higher. We have to think about energy and design that way. We just don’t it’s so unfamiliar, we don’t have the capacity, right now. Those are some of the major issues that would link to training, but also just that the government governance structure of the Canadian Government just keeps leading down this wicked problem trail of creating more problems and more problems, so that has to be kind of a fundamental shift in everything in order for for some of these big interconnected issues to be addressed.
- Support groups that call for the abolishment of the Doctrine of Discovery. Support Indigenous Peoples push for self-determination, freedom and liberation.
- Support in creating jobs that do not upload the current destructive systems that exploit, pillage and plunder lands, resources and animals.
- Support Indigenous land protectors and defenders like #LandBackLand & Wet’su’wetan, Tiny House Warriors etc, Indigenous Peoples need to support to get their lands back.
P7: And that’s exactly where my thoughts are headed to is rebuilding local economies. So we’re seeing an architecture world to there’s so many shortages and everywhere, but like in my area of work we’re seeing shortages say like building materials and supplies. How do we procure local supplies and how do we rebuild local economies and communities for those communities to kind of take a more of a turnkey operation. That dovetails into education and training and communities and capacity building, so from like a grassroots ground up like lots of saying not like a colonial system that’s imposed on them that’s what’s been done forever in communities. It’s not never worked and still isn’t working, and you know, hopefully there’s opportunity to build these kinds of local economies.
Just really quickly back on question when I put something in the chat just to build on my land and until you’re talking about the animals being sick just to further that I were noticing that to hear i’m not too far away from Sylvia one of the biggest things is we’re now starting to see is the auctioning off a lot of public lands. And these are typically like really high value wildlife lines for animals. There’s lots of lots of animals in their free access hunting for everybody including indigenous people and they’ve been systemically auctioning these parcels of land to balance budgets.
So we’ve lost a huge resource and now can’t even schedule just access to land, access to traditional foods do have access to land and then you couple that with chronic wasting disease that is ongoing and actually being supported by the government. And that is promoting the huge spread of Chronic Wasting disease which is impacting communities access to traditional food, but it’ll never change because the government is kind of put a whole lot of power and are able to lobby, like the hunting outfitters so they’re running these huge big stations and they’re promoting this policy web and then on top of that, in January 1 so they they actually enacted, the new these new trespass laws, so now to step on anybody’s property you now need permission from them to hunt, whereas before it was on posted you’re able to access it on. So this has a lot of incoming issues now First Nations made to people now need to go to all these farmers and try to ask granting permission on remote parcels, which is a huge issue.
And it’s going to promote a lot of potential issues and violence so it’s further impacting First Nations community rights stop access traditional foods here it’s kind of a compounding thing that’s going on. Locally we have like a wild boar hunt ranch That was a lot of here and supported by the government. And now, all these ball boys are getting loose which is taking habitat resources away from all our traditional food sources like deer elk or moose. So it’s all kind of compounding in terms of access traditional food someone like Alex is talking about loss of habitat and forestry to where they’ve doubled Dakota. and northern task on forestry they’re reopening upon mill here, so the quarter on clear cutting and logging has been doubled were. engaged in multiple duty to consult processes with the government of saskatchewan trying to stop clear cutting and many areas it’s totally unsuccessful, like the duty to consult process is proving to be a fallacy, the government doesn’t exist it’s fiction, you know. We put time into duty to consults and ask them to do things they promised to do things they don’t follow their own consultation policy framework, so it’s all interconnected it’s all compounding. : And at the bottom line again like the climate change and political change this kinds of things are impacting at First Nations communities local traditional communities that are accessing line for medicines, improved the most. it’s not impacting people in town, who have higher paying jobs and access to you know commercially farmed meat and they choose to eat that like we live off while each year. And every year it’s getting harder and harder to procure for all those reasons, we have no loose left here anymore partly. You know, used to be able to get this all the time here and we’re not seeing them on the government’s not doing independent peer reviewed studies. On this kind of thing we’ve challenged them search or Celsius or this lots of the government is always talking about how forest fire clearcutting managers are. mimics the effects of forest fire on a force parcel so we dug into that and we did we asked for scholarly research, the government had none. We asked her research around indicator species that they say is like an indicator of the health of our forests and if they’ve claimed that the last. decade they’ve been doing that research and we asked for the data there’s none they haven’t that they have been lying to us.When we press the only thing we found forest fire mimicking a clear cut they admitted was in terms of visual appearance so none of the ecological benefits and they don’t reference any peer reviewed or scientific studies and any other forestry plans that the writing.: So these are the kinds of things we’re up against here we’ve challenged right almost a point of taking the provincial government, a quarter me to community.
Over this week don’t have access to resources for it and that’s how they they continue to kind of impact and do this and it’s accelerating climate change we’re losing our boreal forest at an unprecedented rate here.
P3: And also, to add off that too, with what Jason was saying about the trespass laws, simply going out to hunt and engage in the environmental practices now has a weird psychological barrier for some indigenous land-based users. Recently the RCMP in Manitoba pulled out their rifles on a hunter who shot a moose, based on a settler calling to report they heard shots. You factor in how settlers are also scared of indigenous people or view us as threats. How do we know we’re going to be safe out there? The psychological barriers and challenges present for some. Because Even if we wear our orange, take our status card, and do everything “legally,” we still don’t know what type of COPs will show up. We still don’t know if that type of farmer will choose violence. We still don’t know if they will call others for backup. So going out there into rural areas has genuine considerations and, I would argue, is a safety risk. So now, young hunters choose to hunt secretly or go out at night to hunt and track in the nighttime because they feel safer, but even that is a safety risk and can still yield run-ins with the law. Many are just trying to acquire traditional food and feed families. It seems like it is a lose-lose for some, especially if they have prior records for making mistakes in the past or are desperate to feed their families so some will turn to other avenues to feed their family. Again, this all intersects. You try to solve one problem, and then you uncover multiple.
P7: I think we’re heading towards privatized hunting in our province like it isn’t states.Like in Texas, if you want to have to do you have to pay $1,000 to access line to hunt, and I think that that’s rapidly where we’re hunting are heading and in saskatchewan.And that’s going to have further impact, so I think, and they are there’s a lot of bullying and scare tactics by like.There was a several years ago that they went into manitoba and to Derek and even X community and rated freezers, the saskatchewan conservation officers cross the provincial boundary into another province underrated freezers, and the first nation that’s just federal lands.and got away with it so there’s a lot of bad precedents as a meaty person we can’t even hunt without.
Fear of prosecution, I mean manitoba you can operate it, you can carry or you can vince’s catrin we have, we have to buy licenses and hundred bye.
bye like kona laws were not they tell us were allowed to and they say See you in court, what when like that’s so yeah we’re.
I think we’re all feeling the pressure of access to traditional for the grocery prices prices are rising as a result of climate change at all kind of compounding right now.
- According to treaty 6(six) and the numbered treaties generally, we never ceded or surrendered our lands. Definitely there’s no mention to cede and surrender resources or the animals. In fact, the opposite is written, the treaty Commissioner, was very clear and stating we don’t want your animals, we have our own that’s a very clear statement in the Treaties.
- My brother and I recently were taken to court for basically trespassing on our own land so there’s this criminalization that is ongoing. During court, when treaty 6 (six) was brought up the conservation officers knew nothing about it,
- Conservation officers now carry AK 15s, their military style weaponry in saskatchewan that was. implemented in 2017
- When the Leap Manifesto was being created by non indigenous peoples, they wanted Idle No More to join. Their manifesto is about jobs, economy etc, I told them I wasn’t going to walk or support it because Indigenous Peoples rarely get the jobs security – things that really matter.
- According to research, Indigenous women predominantly do not get the permanent position jobs they get the contracts, the short term, so there’s no job security at all and I totally can relate to that this is the first time in my life that I actually have job security at the University of Windsor.
- Even positions created for Indigenous peoples are taken up by non Indigenous.
- People need to go and research the Doctrine of Discovery, its foundations are white supremacy. theft of land, invasion, dehumanization, domination, these are all the pillars of what creates Canada including the current economic system.
4. Now that we’ve talked about some solutions, how do you think these solutions can be achieved to build, maintain or strengthen community resilience? Who is responsible for these changes—individuals, community groups, governments or a mix?
P1: The question around some solutions, I think that One House Many Nations is trying to focus on solutions.One way is by creating grassroots networks. Sometimes we can’t go through the usual chains, even First Nations government, so we’re just doing the work. We continue to do the work despite all of these challenges and creating strong networks across various groups of people. We also try to think ahead in terms of how the whole process of designing and building a house can be done in a way that acknowledges or honors the land or views houses as an extension of land. That’s what we’re trying to do, and also trying to involve youth and other groups that have been asymmetrically marginalized by racism and homophobia and sexism.
P2: I just wanted to underscore a little bit about what Alex just said.
As a person walking alongside in support of the efforts of One House Many Nations, I definitely learned to just focus on just doing the work, just building a house, and addressing the challenges as they come up around that effort. What surprised me was that you come up against racism. As somebody coming from the outside, I had no idea how big a problem this was for FN communities until we just tried to start building houses. What I’ve watched the OHMN partners do is simply break down each problem as we encounter them, and just move forward. Another important part is what we are talking about then is finding pathways and processes to housing, as opposed to the one size fits all solution. You really have to meet people where they are and help them achieve their goals within their own context. I think that has been very effective and what Alex and Shirley have been able to do very well is bring people together: community leaders, stakeholders, students and academics. It is a diverse, multidisciplinary group of people to deal with a very complex problem. It has helped tremendously to have the focus of sustainable housing, because that becomes the starting point of the conversations about things like land-based education, energy independence, material independence and food security. Even just this one tiny house in Sylvia’s Community has sparked conversations about not only how does this person get enough solar energy to cook their food, but also how does that person learn to cook their food? What food do they cook? Where does it come from? That young person has never had a house before, and didn’t have a lot of experience taking care of themselves independently. So in the creation of that tiny house, you also start to begin to address some of these issues.
In terms of resiliency, when a big climate effect happens like a flood or hurricane it’s not going to be the government that saves you, it’s going to be your neighbor. So building capacity in FN community should be job number one (like the ability to build your own house from your own wood). However, I think folks like Mylan and Alex and Sylvia or Jason are much better position to respond to that, but certainly from an outsider observing what has been so effective in terms of actually getting things done are grassroots movements that have been building these very comprehensive networks and tackling just one problem at a time.