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Darrell on housing

I just finished listening to today's ReVision Quest episode on housing. For as long as I have been doing this show, I am still amazed at the pure volume of issues that Aboriginal People endure on a daily basis. The problems surrounding Native housing are a prime example.

For this episode it was great that my producer Ruth Shead and I were actually able to go on a field trip to Peguis First Nation. Partly to get out of the CBC offices and their maddening fluorescent lights, which by the way I am convinced are giving me a green tan, but mostly to see the housing problem first hand.

The main impression that struck me as we were interviewing our guests was the feeling that they were just happy to have someone listening to their concerns. I get the feeling from their comments about dealing with various governments that their housing concerns often go ignored. Then we toured the reserve and I could see firsthand the extent to which their housing concerns are ignored.

random 126.JPGThe first house we went to see, as featured in today's episode, was pretty shocking. Not so much for the state it was in but for the fact that people still had to live there due to the housing shortage on the reserve. The basement was covered in knee- level water which was stagnant and mouldy. There were sports awards and medals floating in the water, the house stank of mildew and mould, and there was no way to drain out the water or repair the damage.

random 128.JPGI was nervous about breathing in the air in that house. In the few parts of the house that weren't destroyed by water you could see evidence that a decent family lived there. There were pictures of smiling children and family members everywhere and the non-flooded sections were very well kept. This wasn't a family that let their home dilapidate due to neglect; this was a family that was doing the best they could under impossible circumstances.

I don't mean to sound like I'm writing the script for Extreme Home Makeover here because the reality is in order to prevent the family from moving back in and endangering themselves, the house was going to have to be bulldozed. And unlike Extreme Home Makeover, there would be no new house waiting for them. Even sadder is the reality that the majority of the houses on the reserve are in this state. AND, as we mention in this episode, compared to houses in the Northern, more remote reserves, the Peguis houses are in relatively good shape. I tell you, when I got back to my hotel that night I was very grateful to have a nice, dry, mould free room to sleep in. Too many of my Aboriginal People are not that lucky. Thank goodness for the humorous sketches in today's episode that helped alleviate some of the bleakness of the topic.

random 137.JPGAs long time listeners of ReVision Quest know, humour is an integral part of our show. The reality of life in most Native communities is pretty bleak but what continues to keep my people going is their unflappable sense of humour in the face of dire circumstances. Hopefully ReVision Quest helps continue this tradition. I also hope this episode shed some light on the housing problem in a way that both informed and entertained. Keep listening because we have a lot more ass-sumptions to kick in upcoming episodes!