From start to finish: First Nation students learn to build tiny homes

Thirteen First Nation students are spending six weekends learning how to build a tiny house from start to finish. Jules Knox / Global News

There’s a new class in Yorkton, Sask., for First Nation students that’s laying a good foundation for their future.

In Construction 101, students from grades 10 to 12 are learning how to build a tiny house.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) has partnered with Your Choice Homes to empower youth by teaching them a trade.

“I like the dry-walling, putting in the boards, and screwing in, measuring and cutting them out,” Davis Keepness, a student safety inspector, said.

“My favourite part was framing, I love doing framing,” student builder Felix Wapash said.

Students are given credits towards their high school diploma, 300 apprenticeship hours and work experience in both ticketed and non-ticketed trades.

As a bonus, there’s also a paycheque at the end.

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“These students are walking pretty tall and proud. They’re getting experience that no other course that they have experienced in their high school program has provided,” Jay Noel, Your Choice Homes project leader, said.

“It was kind of scary at first, using the saws was kind of scary, but once you get over it, you know, your confidence builds up,” Wapash said.

Students are currently in the fourth week of a six-week build, working only on weekends.

Thirteen students from six different First Nations are participating in the program. Organizers are hoping it will help generate more student interest in the trades.

“A lot of the First Nations currently buy their houses from manufacturers outside their communities,” Noel said. “Dropping the seed in high school students, what happens is they might take up the skill or the trade, and chiefs can start keeping a lot of the projects for themselves.”

Most students said they’re interested in pursuing the trades further.

“It’s something I’m looking into,” Keepness said.

As many First Nations also struggle to provide adequate housing, Noel hopes the idea of tiny homes will take off.

“Most First Nations don’t have anything for single adult living,” he said. “They have bachelors that are taking up two or three bedrooms. It’s just inadequate placement of people in the homes, so this helps the reserve place people better.”

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Students will learn how to install fixtures and flooring, and then put the finishing touches on their tiny home over the next couple of weeks.

“I’m going to feel happy, yeah. It’s something I accomplished with others,” Wapash said.

“I guess you could say it’s a job well done,” Keepness said.

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