A safe, warm — and unique — home is on its way to a man on the Big River First Nation in northern Saskatchewan, thanks to a group of Idle No More organizers and a Winnipeg company called Mini Homes of Manitoba.
"We're very proud," said Mini Homes co-owner Anita Munn, fighting back tears. "It's been an incredible journey and we're just glad to see it go."
On Tuesday, Munn and her husband Darryl Manuliak put the final touches on the tiny house before it was loaded on a truck to begin the more than 1,000 kilometre, 10-hour drive to the Big River First Nation, north of Saskatoon.
Munn wouldn't identify the person who's receiving the home other than saying they were living in what could be described as a 'shanty' without running water or electricity.
Winnipeg-based Lee River Transport provided the truck to move the tiny house, just one of many local companies and individuals that were brought together by Idle No More and Mini Houses of Manitoba either free of charge or at a discounted rate.
Organizers from Idle No More initially raised more than $15,000 to build the energy-efficient, compact mobile house, which was constructed in a Winnipeg warehouse over a four-week period starting in December.
More than 300 people contributed to the crowdfunding campaign, while volunteers chipped in to provide bedding and other household items.
At 16-by-eight feet, it features a kitchen and living area, a bathroom with a composting toilet and radiant floor heating. It also has a solar power system for electricity and a wood stove for added heating.
It's welcome news for Big River First Nation housing co-ordinator Leo Jack, who said there simply aren't enough houses for all the community's 3,300 members.
Some of the houses are in disrepair or have toxic mould, Jack said.
"People would like to come home but I have to tell them, 'we can't put you anywhere because of a shortage of houses.'" - Leo Jack, Big River First Nation housing co-ordinator
The community bought 40 mobile homes this summer but there's still overcrowding and that forces many people to leave the reserve for nearby cities and towns.
Jack said about 270 people are on the waiting list for houses.
One House, Many Nations
The tiny house is the first of three houses Idle No More committed to building as part of its One House, Many Nations campaign.
The group has raised more than $25,000 for the others but has also teamed up with designers at Harvard University to develop a sustainable and affordable housing construction system.
"They have developed a new type of wood using old pallets," said Idle No More organizer Alex Wilson, who`s also a professor at the University of Saskatchewan.
Wilson says they've partnered with the Opaskweyak Cree Nation in northern Manitoba for the next leg of the One House, Many Nations campaign.