First Nations, Manitoba and feds team up on rental project for First Nations students

By The Canadian Press

An apartment complex slated to open next year in Winnipeg is to provide First Nations students who have moved off reserve an affordable place to live while they pursue a post-secondary education.

The project is being spearheaded by the Opaskwayak Cree Nation in northern Manitoba, with funding from the federal and Manitoba governments.

The First Nation will own and operate the seven-storey apartment building downtown near the University of Winnipeg and will include a mix of affordable living with more than 40 per cent of the rental units offered at a discounted rate.

A news release says several units are to be leased to First Nations students, as well as young families and elders.

The project is aimed at helping to address the shortage of affordable rentals.

The total cost of the project is more than $17 million, with $15.6 million coming from the federal government, $105,000 coming from Efficiency Manitoba, a Crown corporation, and $1.8 million from Opaskwayak.

“This building not only allows our Cree Nation to start capitalizing within the real estate market, it will allow us a place in the city to house some of our own citizens who are leaving the north to begin their higher education journeys in the south,” Chief Sidney Ballantyne said in a statement Wednesday.

He added the lower rent will allow students to focus on their school work and career paths, “which, in turn, will allow them to continue to make successful contributions to not only Opaskwayak, but to the entire country.”

The 69-unit building will replace four vacant, dilapidated homes that have been demolished.

“Every Canadian deserves a safe and affordable place to call home,” said Ahmed Hussen, federal minister of housing, and diversity and inclusion.

Construction is expected to take 18 months and be complete by summer 2024.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 11, 2023.

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