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Chard and Conklin Métis communities secure much-needed land to build houses

November 2020 - The northern Alberta Métis communities of Chard and Conklin scored a major success for their participation in our Indigenous housing initiative this summer: the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo’s Council unanimously voted in favour of selling parcels of land to them for a nominal amount so they can build new homes.

While the four First Nations communities that are part of our initiative already have land for housing, Chard and Conklin needed to secure residential lots to build houses. Paying market value for the land would have meant significantly less funding available to build the homes.

Justin Herman, CEO of Chard Métis, speaks in December 2019 after learning about the Cenovus Indigenous housing initiative.

“This is a big milestone for us,” says Justin Herman, CEO of Chard Métis. “We’re always trying to break the poverty cycle within our community – shifting the mentality from surviving to thriving. Having this land is a great start in helping us move towards that goal.”

“We see this as an important opportunity to work with Cenovus and Indigenous partners to build safe, affordable housing within the community,” says Dennis Fraser, Director, Indigenous and Rural Relations at the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. “We understand that land is central to reconciliation and through these actions we reaffirm our commitment to advancing reconciliation in Wood Buffalo.”

Ten months after the launch of the Indigenous housing initiative, we’ve signed funding agreements with most of the communities and worked with them to develop housing plans. While each of the communities is progressing at their own speed, some have broken ground and poured foundations, with some home construction underway.