On April 23, 2021, Central Urban Métis Federation Inc. held a sod turning ceremony to celebrate the start of construction on the Round Prairie Elders' Lodge in the Pleasant Hill neighbourhood of Saskatoon. Here is the release sent out to media informing them of that exciting event!
Saskatoon, SK – Central Urban Métis Federation Inc. (CUMFI) is thrilled to be starting construction on the Round Prairie Elders’ Lodge, a 26-unit affordable housing development for Métis Elders in Saskatoon.
“CUMFI has been committed to ensuring our Elders have a safe and affordable place to call home for a very long time. Our Elders have long expressed a need for Métis owned and operated supported and affordable seniors housing. After talking about it for twenty years, I almost can’t believe it’s happening,” says Shirley Isbister, President of CUMFI.
Government programs that support innovation, affordable housing, Indigenous economic development, and community revitalization helped make this project a reality. Thanks to financial contributions from government partners, the project will achieve rental rates that are 30% below market, and energy efficiency that is 40% better than current new construction standards.
The Round Prairie Elders’ Lodge is one of the first of 24 projects nationally under the Indigenous Homes Innovation Initiative (IHII) to reach the construction stage. The IHII program, based on the simple yet powerful idea that the best solutions come from those who live the problem every day, contributed $2,293,077 towards the Elders’ Lodge project.
“This is further proof that the best Indigenous housing solutions come from Indigenous peoples and communities,” says the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services. With funding through the Indigenous Homes Innovation Initiative, Indigenous Services Canada is supporting the building of the Round Prairie Elders’ Lodge. “I congratulate CUMFI on starting this creative and valuable housing project for Métis Elders. We remain committed to supporting important affordable housing projects such as this.”
“Congratulations to CUMFI as it moves to implementing its vision of affordable housing for Saskatoon’s Métis Elders, with a facility that includes social and cultural supports,” says Will Goodon, Co-Chair - Indigenous Homes Innovation Initiative (IHII) Steering Committee. “This project is an excellent example of how IHII is successfully facilitating innovative housing approaches that leverage contributions from numerous partners.”
“It is very exciting that yet another Indigenous housing project is now proceeding to the next phase of project development. We recognize the urgent need for safe and healthy housing for Indigenous people as well as the critical role new housing development can have on community economic development” says Ray Wanuch, Executive Director of the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers (CANDO) which administers the IHII program.
Métis Nation-Saskatchewan (MN-S) has provided $1,500,000 in funding for the Lodge through the Canada-Métis National Housing Sub-Accord, which prioritizes new investments in housing and capacity building programs to help those most in need. MN-S funding was made possible through the support of the MN-S Western Region II-A Regional Council.
MN–S President Glen McCallum says, “Our Métis Nation–Saskatchewan Government is proud to be a part of this working partnership helping the Round Prairie Elders’ Lodge. Our most respected citizens, our Métis Elders, should not have to worry about safe, affordable housing. This Lodge offers the peaceful surroundings our Elders deserve.”
MN–S Western Region II-A is in full support of the Elders’ Lodge and has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with CUMFI to participate in an advisory committee.
MN–S Western Region II-A Reginal Director Penny Hurton says, “We carefully considered the projects being planned for our region and found the Round Prairie Elders’ Lodge to fill a void. Our Métis Elders and seniors deserve a break. This project shows what is possible when multiple agencies, regions and locals work together.”
On the municipal level, the City of Saskatoon provided $178,437 in funding for the new Elders’ Lodge through the Affordable Housing Capital Grant – an important initiative designed to create more affordable housing in Saskatoon.
“I am so glad to see the Round Prairie Elders lodge created for Elders in our community. Home is so important. This quality housing, grounded in Métis cultural traditions, also creates a community for people to be connected with each other. Thank you to CUMFI and all of the partners involved for bringing this project to life. I am very glad that the City of Saskatoon was able to be part of this project,” says Mayor of Saskatoon Charlie Clark.
CUMFI is also looking to partner with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation (SHC) with more details to come in the future.
The Lodge will provide a wide range of supports for Elders on site in addition to shared amenity space for the community to enjoy, including a ceremony/prayer room and a courtyard featuring traditional medicinal plants and fruit trees.
Métis architect David T. Fortin took inspiration for the design of the building from the traditional Métis homes constructed around Saskatchewan. “Recognizing that the urban context is quite different than that of the rural folk home, we tried to take visual cues and overall space planning ideas that we have learned about over the years and translate certain aspects in a contemporary way. We were truly honoured to have this opportunity to try to respect the traditional Métis ways while honouring our Elders.”
One of the defining characteristics of the project is the level of collaboration that was required to make it successful. “We employ an integrated design process that engages funding partners while design takes place” says Alex Miller, CEO of Big Block Construction, the project development consultant and general contractor for the project. “This ensures the communities we build embody sustainability for generations.”
Construction of the Round Prairie Elders’ Lodge commenced earlier in April and is expected to be complete by October of this year. Not only will this investment help improve the Pleasant Hill neighbourhood, but it will also provide a noticeable economic benefit to local Indigenous companies with CUMFI’s commitment to ensuring Indigenous contractors are engaged throughout construction.
CUMFI ensures that safe, appropriate and affordable housing is available to individuals and families in need. “We are so excited for our Elders to move into their new homes later this year” concludes Isbister. “The importance of being able to provide stable, quality homes for our Elders cannot be understated.”
For further information please contact:
Shirley Isbister, President
Central Urban Métis Federation Inc.