Kukpi7 (Chief) Cliff Arnouse of the Adams Lake band used these words several times during ground-breaking ceremonies on Sept. 23 for a new housing subdivision project.
Nestled against a hill overlooking the beauty of Little Shuswap Lake, the long-awaited project will include seven multi-unit lots, whose design will range from duplex to triplex to fourplex, as well as 15 single-unit residential lots.
Kukpi7 Arnouse emphasized the importance of the houses, as they mean band members who live elsewhere can come home.
“The more we build, the more people come home, and the more ideas, the more they bring with them – their families, their ideas… Growth is something that’s happening as we speak. People are all wanting to come home, and this is the opportunity.”
He said there are close to 900 band members now, but only enough housing for about one-third.
There is a lot of crowding on the reserve.
Along with providing accommodation, the project is providing employment as well as training in construction trades for some band members.
Jerry Andrew, a band member with Gentech Engineering who designed the project, said 11 local students will be getting hands-on training on construction of the duplex through a Thompson Rivers University program.
Denny Coates, also a band member, is the general contractor on the project.
The men noted that it’s rewarding to see development in the community, as things have been stagnant for a few years.
Arnouse estimated that it’s been about 25 years since a house was built on reserve.
Andrew said he expects the construction, depending on weather, will begin in early spring and the first six single-unit homes and the duplex should be done by June or July 2021.
Applications have been received for the homes and they will be rent-to-own.
The ground-breaking ceremony was a happy occasion, with lots of smiles, and laughter.
Also expressing support for the project were Adams Lake councillors Brandy Jules, Elaine Jules and Shelley Witzky.
Elder Ethel Billy set the tone with a gratitude-filled prayer. She thanked everyone profusely for their work on and help with the project, and expressed gratitude for the abundance of food and resources available to people.
She suggested that people love each other and look after each other.