Tiny Homes Build Big Opportunities

Cold Lake First Nations students build a home and a future in the trades.

In the fall of 2016, the Tribal Chief’s Education & Training Services Assocaition (TCETSA), along with Trades Winds in Success Training Society launched a new way of giving indigenous adults a chance to enter the workforce with an education and hands-on training in the trades, through the Tiny Homes project. The pilot project, held in Kehewin, was such a great success that it grew to surrounding communities; including Cold Lake First Nations (CLFN).

Program Coordinator, with the North East Alberta Apprenticeship Initiative (NEAII), Rick Janvier, explains the program has grown fast, “there’s two homes in Kehewin, one in Kikino, Beaver Lake is in the academic portion and Saddle Lake & Buffalo Lake are going to be starting one. We’re getting the eleven communities in the area.”

Six CLFN students recently completed the foundations of a career in building a tiny home and celebrated their graduation from the program on Wednesday. Including the six new graduates, the program has trained 66 young indigenous adults in the trades since the fall of 2016. The program starts with a six week in class training, that allows students to get the courses required to enter a trades program and then gives the students the in class training for specific trades. From there an eight week hand-on trades training program is taught, where students use the knowledge and skills they learned to build a home.

The students are adults, who have been out of school for a number of years or who haven’t met the AIT entrance exam for the trades. So if you want to be a plumber and you haven’t met the trades entrance requirements, you go to Trade Winds to get your courses.

“The students gain employability skills. They’ll be certified in one of the construction trades; electrical, plumbing, carpentry or scaffolding,” Janvier says many student either enter the workforce or continue their training after completing the tiny home. Some students even continue by giving back and becoming journeymen to oversee a future group of tiny homes students.

Graduating Students from Cold Lake First Nations

  • Natasha Grandois
  • Jessica Janvier
  • Brandon Kennedy
  • Kisha Nest
  • Albert Potskin
  • Elton Scanie

The tiny home in CLFN is 468 square feet. It features three rooms; a main area/kitchen, a bedroom and a bathroom. In the bedroom there is also space for a stackable washer-dryer unit with the proper electrical outlets. The kitchen has room for a standard refrigerator and a counter-top stove unit.

Plans for the house are up in the air right now, there has been talk of raffling the home off or having an application process to see who may need it; but nothing is set yet. The house is movable and can be placed on a foundation. As for the program, it will likely continue as CLFN looks to secure funding to begin a second home. In Kehewin a third home is planned with an all-female group.