Thursday, June 14, 2012

Mike Holmes: "We Need More Aboriginal People In Construction"

For Mike Holmes, there's a lot of power and pride that comes with being a tradesman. This week, on June 12, Mike gave the keynote address at the 2012 World Indigenous Housing Conference, and along with Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie, encouraged aboriginals living on reserves to empower themselves and build up their communities by becoming involved in the skilled trades. This recent article from The Province covers Mikes involvement in the conference and his "[work] with the Assembly of First Nations to design and construct sustainable housing on reserves in Canada."

Mike Holmes: ‘We need more aboriginal people in construction’

 By SUZANNE FOURNIER, The Province June 12, 2012
Mike Holmes is one of the guest speakers at this week's World Indigenous Housing Conference.

Mike Holmes is one of the guest speakers at this week's World Indigenous Housing Conference.

Photograph by: Alex Schuldt , The Holmes Group

TV star Mike Holmes and Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie have more in common than being keynote speakers at the World Indigenous Housing Conference.
They’re both blunt, plain-talking trailblazers not afraid to dish out tough talk, especially if it helps achieve better housing for Canada’s First Nations.
“It’s the same pile of crap but a different set of problems,” said Holmes, to explain why housing for aboriginal people across the country is riddled with mold, plagued by substandard construction and in urgent need of replacement.
“We need more aboriginal people in construction, we need aboriginal people in trades and if we don’t act now to improve housing on reserves, we’re in big trouble,” said Holmes, who is working with the Assembly of First Nations to design and construct sustainable housing on reserves in Canada.
Louie, whose band runs nine businesses including a construction company, a golf course and the first aboriginal winery in North America, Nk’Mip Cellars, tells a crowd of 1,500 people Tuesday, “I’m not here to blow sunshine, I’m not a visionary or a dreamer. I’m here to tell our young people to get a job.
“You only go as far as your work ethic takes you.”
Louie preaches breaking free of the “poverty” of federal handouts and self-sufficiency achieved through economic development, done right.
“Trades are a valuable occupation for non-native people, as Mike Holmes said, and for our people, it’s essential if we want to run our own lives, build our own homes.”
In 1985, the Osoyoos Indian band had no tradespeople. Today, Louie notes, it has nine journeymen carpenters and its own construction business.
Louie says he doesn’t tolerate “ghetto talk” and graffiti on his reserve.
“I tell a kid with baggy pants down to his backside, don’t tell me you’re a warrior until you’ve got a job and you’re paying to support your own kids.”
Sporting diamonds in both ears, Holmes is most often seen in coveralls on his top-watched HGTV show Holmes on Homes, syndicated all over the world.
He has forged his reputation ripping out shoddy construction on-camera, but he’s also a philanthropist who has helped build affordable New Orleans homes after Hurricane Katrina, and now is focussing on Canada’s worst housing stock.
Both Holmes and Louie, along with delegates to one of the largest First Nations housing conferences in the world, face a steep challenge.
At least 50 per cent of First Nations housing falls below Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation standards, in quantity and quality, and up to 25 per cent of homes are unliveable due to poor construction and issues like mold.
And about 29 per cent of First Nations live in homes requiring major repairs.
The World Indigenous Housing Conference is at Vancouver’s Hyatt Regency Hotel until Friday this week.

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