Tla-o-qui-aht build container housing on the West Coast

NIC partnered with Tla-o-qui-aht Nation, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, Camosun College and Vancouver Island University on an exciting pilot project to convert shipping containers into residential and workforce housing units.

NIC recently partnered with Tla-o-qui-aht Nation, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, Camosun College and VIU on a pilot project that has been called one of the most innovative housing projects in North America. 

The project saw 21 new energy efficient shipping container homes available for rent on Tla-o-qui-aht land this summer.  The converted containers have the potential to develop a First Nations-led housing project that gives community members the skills to build and support their community.   

The First Nation on BC’s West Coast hopes the affordable rental units will address the local housing crisis and provide new opportunities for band members living away from the community to return home.

Instead of hiring outside contractors, the Tla-o-qui-aht developed its own workforce, training community members through a six-week program at North Island College. The project was sponsored by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

The college offered foundation trades training, safety certifications and more through its Continuing Education and Training Division, with the goal of having students move through into carpentry apprenticeship and Interprovincial (Red Seal) certification.

“It’s really nice to see what we’ve learned — these skills — stay in the community,” says Jon David, a Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations member.  

The First Nation plans to expand the project, building additional homes for the community. They also see it as a model that could be expanded across the country.

“We know that what you guys are doing has national implications," Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation public works manager, Dave Dennis, told students at the beginning of the project. "What you are doing here represents the very beginning for First Nations to model themselves by so it's very important we get this right.” 

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