Creating a home sweet home in Manitoba

Enbridge Aboriginal Home Program, H4H Canada make home ownership a reality

In Portage La Prairie, Man., one family’s life is about to dramatically change, thanks to the Enbridge Aboriginal Home Program and its partnership with Habitat for Humanity Canada.

Tiffany and Jesse Chartrand, parents to two children aged six and one, will next spring move from their tiny rental suite into a newly built bungalow they can call their very own. It means baby Daliss will no longer have to sleep in a crib in the living room.

But it also means a secure future for Tiffany’s children, and a family life she never had.

“I look forward it,” says Tiffany, 29. “I never thought I would be a homeowner.”

Growing up, Tiffany bounced around from place to place with her mother, who was constantly on the move as she tried unsuccessfully to escape a life of addiction.

H4H Portage homeowner pic
Tiffany Chartrand and baby daughter Daliss, along with Lyle Neis, Enbridge's Director of Public Affairs Project Advancement, during October's sponsored build at Portage La Prairie, Man.

Now, as a mother herself, Tiffany is determined to ensure her kids have a stable childhood in their own home.

“It’s just amazing. I never thought I would have this kind of life,” she says.

For Enbridge, it’s about giving back to the communities in which we operate as well as championing awareness of the distinct challenges faced by Aboriginal Canadians. The home ownership rate for Aboriginal households, for example, is 17 per cent lower than that of Canada’s non-Aboriginal population.

Enbridge is in the second year of its five-year partnership with Habitat for Humanity Canada, investing $1-million to advance home ownership among Aboriginal Canadians.

The home for Tiffany and Jesse is one of four sponsored builds across Canada this year. Three others are being built in 2014 in other parts of Canada where Enbridge operates – Alberta’s Kikino Metis Settlement, Fort Qu’Appelle, Sask., and Sarnia, Ont.

Thanks to Enbridge and other partners, Habitat for Humanity Canada is making significant strides to expand affordable home ownership to First Nations people, and recently celebrated a huge milestone with its 100th Aboriginal home build. That achievement was accompanied by the announcement of yet another important milestone — a deal with the Flying Dust Nation in Saskatchewan that will see the first ever Habitat home built on-reserve.

Both events were celebrated Oct. 6 at the Toronto Stock Exchange “ringing of the bell” – attended by Jayshree Thakar, Habitat for Humanity Canada’s Aboriginal Housing Program manager; Chief Robert Merasty of the Flying Dust First Nation; and Habitat for Humanity Canada’s partners, with Roxanna Benoit, Vice-President of Public, Government and Aboriginal Affairs, representing Enbridge.

The program, has gained momentum since Enbridge partnered with Habitat, says Thakar.

“The sponsorship from Enbridge is a huge help,” agrees Steve Krahn, Habitat for Humanity Manitoba’s vice-president of regional development. “That sponsorship goes a long way for us to build this home and make affordable housing a reality for Jesse and Tiffany.”

Tiffany, meanwhile, hopes to show her gratitude by paying it forward.

“I am so grateful to Enbridge and everybody for making this happen . . . I hope some day I can help someone else the way I have been helped.”