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Ground broken on affordable housing project for Métis elders in Saskatoon

An artist rendering of the Round Prairie Elders’ Lodge in Saskatoon. CUMFI / Supplied

A new elders lodge in Saskatoon is being hailed as an innovative affordable housing solution for Métis people.

Construction has started on the Round Prairie Elders’ Lodge, a 26-unit in Pleasant Hill.

“Our Elders have long expressed a need for Métis-owned and operated supported and affordable seniors housing,” Shirley Isbister, president of Central Urban Métis Federation Inc. (CUMFI), said in a statement Friday.

“After talking about it for twenty years, I almost can’t believe it’s happening.”

Read more: Federal government funding $17M for housing in Saskatchewan First Nations

Proponents of the project say it will also support Indigenous economic development and community revitalization. CUMFI said it is committed to ensuring Indigenous contractors are engaged throughout construction.

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“This is further proof that the best Indigenous housing solutions come from Indigenous peoples and communities,” said Marc Miller, minister of Indigenous services.

It is one of the first of 24 projects under the Indigenous Homes Innovation Initiative (IHII) to reach the construction stage.

“Congratulations to CUMFI as it moves to implementing its vision of affordable housing for Saskatoon’s Métis Elders, with a facility that includes social and cultural supports,” said Will Goodon, co-chair for the IHII steering committee.

“This project is an excellent example of how IHII is successfully facilitating innovative housing approaches that leverage contributions from numerous partners.”

CUMFI said once complete, the lodge will offer rental rates 30 per cent below market and an energy efficiency that is 40 per cent better than current standards.

“Our most respected citizens, our Métis Elders, should not have to worry about safe, affordable housing,” said Glen McCallum, president of the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan.

“This Lodge offers the peaceful surroundings our Elders deserve.”

Read more: Saskatoon city council votes to lower taxes on affordable housing projects

Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark calls it an important step in creating more affordable housing in the city while respecting Indigenous culture.

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“I am so glad to see the Round Prairie Elders lodge created for Elders in our community,” he said.

“This quality housing, grounded in Métis cultural traditions, also creates a community for people to be connected with each other.”

CUMFI said the lodge will have a wide range of supports along with a shared amenity space for the community to enjoy, a ceremony/prayer room and a courtyard featuring traditional medicinal plants and fruit trees.

“The importance of being able to provide stable, quality homes for our Elders cannot be understated,” Isbister said.

CUMFI said it expects construction to be complete by October.

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