It was a life-changing day for a family in Yellowknife, who were handed keys to their new Habitat for Humanity home on Wednesday.
Jean-Claude Ouellette-Landry and Morgan Ranseth have three young children and were struggling to get ahead when they applied for the non-profit housing program.
"We bounced around from shady apartment to shady apartment," said Ouellette-Landry. "It gets tiring."
Ouellette-Landry says they're "ecstatic" about their new home.
"We got those keys and the kids are pumped and we're just super excited."
The home is located in the city's Old Town. It's the second Habitat project in Yellowknife; the first was a duplex. The families who partner with the organization pay an interest-free mortgage geared toward their income and volunteer 500 hours on future projects.
"It's a huge weight off our shoulders," said Ouellette-Landry.
"It means everything," echoed Ranseth. She's a stay-at-home mom and says it's difficult for a family to live off one income in the North. Ranseth said they applied to Habitat on a whim.
"It's literally the biggest break we've ever gotten as a family. It's quite the honour."
'Basic core need'
Caroline Cochrane, the minister responsible for the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation, was on hand for Wednesday's event.
"Everybody needs a home," she said. "This is a basic core need."
Cochrane described what a huge issue housing is for people in the N.W.T. She said organizations like Habitat for Humanity make a difference.
"Our government is committed to providing housing for people, but we don't have enough money," Cochrane said.
"Even though my budget is over $100 million a year, I have over 750 families on a wait list, with kids, trying to get in. So I can't do it alone."
Mayor Mark Heyck pointed out what a collaborative effort Habitat homes are, including donations from local businesses and residents volunteering hours of their time to help.
"It's such a happy occasion for the family," he said.
The City of Yellowknife has a partnership with the organization to provide land, something Heyck says he's very proud of.
The organization has been in touch with the city about the parcel of land it's interested in for its third home in Yellowknife. Heyck said the two parties will be in the planning stages over the next few months to get that project underway.
As for this family, they'll be spending Christmas in their new home.
"We have the stability for our family. They get a home," said Ranseth.
"They get a place to grow up," Ouellette-Landry added. "It's such a blessing to come our way."