Winnipeg will play host to former U.S. president, Jimmy Carter, and former first lady, Rosalynn Carter, for a short visit next year — and they'll be picking up their hammers and hard hats while they're here.
The Carters are scheduled to arrive in Winnipeg in early July 2017 as part of the Carter Work Project, which sees the couple help build Habitat for Humanity projects around the world every year.
Sandy Hopkins, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Manitoba, said the national organization invited the Carters to come help celebrate Canada's 150th birthday next summer.
"We were very happy," Hopkins said. "We've known for a long time, but we haven't been able to tell anyone."
The goal of the visit is to build 150 homes across Canada, 25 of which will go up in Winnipeg. Hopkins said 40 per cent of the homes built in Winnipeg will be for Indigenous families.
The Carters donate a week of their time each year to build somewhere in the world, alternating years between U.S and international projects. This year, they helped with a project in Memphis.
The couple will split their time next July between Edmonton and Winnipeg, Hopkins said. They last visited Winnipeg in 1993, the first time they helped build a Habitat home outside of the U.S. since 1984.
Carters attract volunteers
Hopkins expects a lot of people will want to help out next summer.
"The fact that they participate attracts a significant number of people that want to be a part of it, both financially and physically," he said.
"Volunteers are really not an issue for us," Hopkins added. "We have lots of volunteers but certainly there will be a huge interest."
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Hopkins said the more immediate need will be to raise the $6.9 million needed for the builds. He said the Winnipeg chapter is currently about $1 million shy of that target.
"It's going to be a great community event, a great opportunity to profile the need for affordable housing in Winnipeg and across Manitoba and a great opportunity for people to come out and meet one of the truly great people in this world," Hopkins said.