Habitat for Humanity is partnering with an unlikely group of workers to make the dreams of several Duck Lake families come true.
Inmates at the Willow Cree Healing Lodge in Duck Lake, 58 kilometres southwest of Prince Albert, are building homes for five deserving families.
Corrections Canada approached the organization in Prince Albert last year about working together.
"It was very gratifying and it has continued to be so. We have the family driving by every day to see how their house is coming," said Bonnie Guigon, chairperson for Habitat for Humanity, Duck Lake chapter.
For 12 weeks at a time, six to eight men from the minimum security prison get to work on the project.
During that time, the inmates are allowed to venture outside the facility to work.
"It beats being in jail anyways. I get to come out here everyday and learn how to do all this stuff — feels like I'm free again," said inmate Clarence Gardipy.
Construction on the first home started last September.
Corrections Canada hopes the offenders' close involvement in the project will help reintegrate them into society by giving them transferable skills.
"They're getting job skills that are going to help them support their families when they get back in the community again, but they're also learning values of respect and giving back to the community," said Eric Michael, coordinator of Willow Cree Healing Lodge.
Guigon said Habitat for Humanity is pleased with the inmates' work.
She said the project has brought the community together, both for those inside and outside the healing lodge.
'I see people smile to get a new house, change their lives just like how I'm changing my life.' - Clarence Gardipy, inmate, Willow Cree Healing Lodge.
"They're very excited, we're very excited and the men that are working here have put their hearts into it," said Guigon.
Gardipy said the experience has been fulfilling in more than one way.
"I see people smile to get a new house, change their lives just like how I'm changing my life with this opportunity right here," said Gardipy.
The first house is expected to be completed a few months from now. Construction on the second house begins this summer.
A previous version of this story named Clayton Gardipy as an inmate. In fact, the correct name is Clarence Gardipy.Aug 22, 2017 1:04 PM CT