Created in 2019 with the goal of assisting Indigenous people, Changing Horses NFP Society is looking to improve life on the Blood Reserve.
After conducting interviews in different communities, Changing Horses identified a lack of housing as a problem.
“(The homeless) use the shelter when it is open in the winter months mostly, but in the summer it’s not open so it’s not available to them,” Changing Horses lead innovator Katie Rabbit-Young Pine said.
“Where do they go? Like one of them said, ‘We have no place to go.'”
With grant funding through Indigenous Services Canada’s Indigenous Innovation Homes Initiative, a supportive housing complex with a main hub and four units will be constructed in Moses Lake, Alta.
Blackfoot culture will be featured in the complex, including the buildings’ colour and style and teachings for the residents.
On Wednesday, Annette Bruised Head helped bless the land.
“The ground that we are standing on has now become sacred and holy because we’ve been praying together… in this case for the homes that have been built on this land,” Bruised Head said.
“It becomes something that is solid, people believe in it now because we’re supported by prayer,” Rabbit-Young Pine said.
“We’re supported by the elders here in Moses Lake and elsewhere.”
After delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the project is now moving past the planning stages.
Rabbit-Young Pine said homelessness means many different things and the complex will be a boost to the community.
“It could be someone living with their grandparents and their parents in the same home,” Rabbit-Young Pine said. “A young couple just starting out, they’re homeless because of the shortage of housing of most First Nations communities.”
Excavation on the land will begin in August in preparation for the complex’s first building.