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Conference to examine sustainable housing options
The timing is ideal.
With the recent extensive media coverage of the living conditions at Attiwapiskat in northern Ontario, many are only now starting to realize the scope of work that needs to be done on First Nations across the country.
As a result, a two-day First Nations Conference on Sustainable Buildings and Communities will be held at Enoch’s River Cree Resort, Feb. 29 and Mar. 1.
The event is being organized by the Sustainable Buildings Consortium, which was created in 1999 by Manasc Isaac Architects.
Organizers are hoping to attract at least 200 delegates, including Elders, First Nations council leaders, environmental scientists, architects, engineers, sustainability leaders, educators and students in any pertaining fields.
The conference is for anybody who has an interest in sustainable and appropriate building options for First Nations communities across the country.
Kent McKay, the communications co-ordinator for Manasc Isaac Architects, said conference organizers are hoping to capitalize on the recent interest Attiwapiskat has created.
“Attiwapiskat is important because it represents an extreme example of the impact the lack of proper infrastructure and sustainable buildings can have,” McKay said.
Those at the conference will be able to get good insight on the northern Ontario community, which was thrust into the national spotlight this past year, albeit for all the wrong reasons.
That’s because one of the guest speakers will be Grand Chief Stan Louttit, the Grand Chief of the Mushkegowuk Council, which includes Attawapiskat.
McKay said organizers are thrilled Louttit will attend the conference.
“We were not counting on it,” McKay said. “But we were delighted we were able to get him.”
McKay anticipates there will be a Q and A session following each speaker at the conference. But breaks are rather lengthy, he added, so those attending can, if they so desire, break down into smaller groups and network or have long conversations with those they wish to.
McKay believes the majority of those attending the conference will be from western Canada.
“Our focus (in attracting delegates) is on the Prairies,” he said. “But we are hoping to get some input from across the country. It is a national event.”
McKay said organizers are hoping that this conference will not be a one-time event.
“We do hope it will become an annual or a semi-annual event,” he said.
McKay added another non-profit organization, M.A.D.E. In Edmonton, is planning to stage monthly follow-up sessions pertaining to conference issues.
Besides Louttit, other guest speakers at the inaugural conference will include architect Wanda Dalla Costa, Chief Clarence Louie and Donna Morton.
Dalla Costa has a company which specializes in culturally responsive and ecologically sustainable design projects for Aboriginal communities.
Louie is the CEO of British Columbia’s Osoyoos Indian Band Development Corporation.
Morton is the co-founder and CEO of First Power, an organization that places green energy technology, along with the affiliated jobs and economic benefits, primarily into First Nation communities across Canada.
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