Original Published on Nov 14, 2022 at 22:10

By Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

THUNDER BAY, ONT. — Tammy McGuire, a carpenter from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, east of Belleville, Ont., was presented with a First Nations Housing Community Recognition Award in Thunder Bay last week.

She worked with a team of women to construct two transitional houses through a women-helping-women empowering project. It earned her the award at the First Nations Housing Community Trade Show and Builders Challenge, which wrapped up Oct. 27.

“I’m just here watching and learning and trying to get more knowledge,” McGuire said.

Funding for the construction project was made possible through a partnership with Indigenous Services Canada to train women in skilled trades while providing necessary homes in northern communities.

“During that journey at the house(s), we worked hands-on with our Red Seal carpentry leaders,” McGuire said. “It’s an apprenticeship program so you can figure out what you want to do. One of the women on the team wanted to be a plumber, so she’s off now to pursue that. And one girl wants to be an electrician so she’s off to do that and I’m off to do the Red Seal carpentry program.”

The women started from the ground up spending days shovelling, breaking and levelling gravel and pouring in the concrete floor. Cedar trees that grew on the land were removed for the construction, stripped and incorporated back into the design of the structures in the form of five posts on each home.

“We were given hammers and nails to build our walls,” she said.  “We started with the exterior walls, and putting up that first wall was pretty amazing. We were right up there on the roof working with the trusses. It’s a great feeling knowing that with all this training, we can do it.” 

The two homes were constructed adjacent to the community’s Red Cedar Shelter. 

McGuire said their accomplishment is a “very great feeling,” yet it was very emotional during the whole process of building the houses.

“It’s sad that there is a need for these houses,” she said. “At the end of it you’re proud of yourself for the job that you’ve done. It’s a great feeling knowing that you’re there to help other women. We gave these women a nice beautiful home to get back onto their feet and to feel safe and comfortable.”

Meanwhile, McGuire visited all the exhibits at the trade show in Thunder Bay, while meeting with more than 390 participants who travelled for the conference. 

This year the conference focused on home maintenance, which involved live competitions where participants took part in a variety of home renovation challenges from door repairs to plumbing. The conference served as a networking platform for First Nation businesses to meet with large corporations for training, funding and partnering.

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

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