Students at Hammarskjold High School are learning much more than reading, writing and arithmetic.

They have learned how to build a house.

Last June, 16 students in the school’s Kendomang Zhagodenamnon Lodge Program (KZ) began constructing a tiny house behind the school under the direction of their teacher, Lisa MacLeod, with partnerships from more than a dozen businesses and organizations. 

The Thunder Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre works with the Lakehead District School Board to deliver the program. 

The tiny home pilot project serves as a pre-apprenticeship program within the KZ Lodge North program and was completed with the unveiling of a modern 10-foot by 30-foot tiny home on Friday.  

“It’s a pretty awesome project for the students to be working on,” MacLeod said. “A lot of them started in the pilot program in Grade 9 and now we’re offering a bit of an extension to the program. So they’re all going to be working towards their senior level credit, which is related to technology and the skilled trades.”

As an added bonus for the students, while working on the house, each participant earned a wage that was provided by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and administered to the students through the Lakehead Social Planning Council.

Lodge students learned skills including reading blueprints, identifying building materials, the principles of carpentry, safely operating power tools and critical applied mathematics. Participating students earned interdisciplinary studies secondary school credits and the working at heights certificate through the Carpenters’ Local Union 1669.

“They have been building skills in the trades, particularly with a focus on construction,” MacLeod said.  “We also did a course called green technology and we’ve done other projects like building garden boxes. They’ve participated in making a big medicine garden for the school and they’ve been working on smaller cultural woodworking projects, like constructing snow shoes, archery bows and canoe paddles.”

For Grade 12 student Liam Wesley, the project was not only informative but fun. 

“I surely learned a lot of different things, especially with woodworking,” Wesley said. 

Wesley plans to travel to British Columbia where he hopes to pursue a career in the trades. 

Classmate Hunter Ritch, a Grade 11 student, plans to continue with a post-secondary education in the trades.

“The program was really good. I learned a lot of new skills and it helped me with my personal business for back home,” Ritch said, adding he hopes to return with his new skills to Fort Hope. 

Grade 12 student Clinton Morris says the project was a lot of fun especially because he had many of his friends helping build the home. 

Morris said, “Building the frame was my favourite part and it was easy.” He also plans to take a college carpentry course and hopes to find work locally. 

Meanwhile, MacLeod says the new tiny home is destined for the Court Street Matawa location and eventually on to a Matawa northern community. 

“It’s just a really great project that involves the community, and the really important issue of Indigenous housing and providing homes for the North,” she said. 

By Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 07, 2023 at 10:00

This item reprinted with permission from   The Chronicle-Journal   Thunder Bay, Ontario
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