Home / Around Canada / Manitoba Métis Federation officially opens $3.4M, 20-unit transitional housing project on Main Street

Manitoba Métis Federation officially opens $3.4M, 20-unit transitional housing project on Main Street

The housing project is named Fre Maachi, which means 'fresh beginnings' in Michif. It will provide wraparound support to help residents with services such as employment, addictions and citizenship registry. (Walther Bernal/CBC - image credit)
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at 670 Main St. on Monday to celebrate the opening of a 20-unit housing-first project operated by the Manitoba Métis Federation. 

“It’s not just a shelter and it’s not just a roof. It’s going to be very culturally appropriate,” Will Goodon, the Manitoba Métis Federation housing minister, told CBC.

The three-storey building next to the Bell Hotel has been named Fre Maachi, which translates to “fresh beginnings” in Michif.

Homelessness in Winnipeg became a glaring issue during the pandemic, with people living in tent cities and other unsafe areas, Goodon said.

In the 2022 Winnipeg Street Census, which works to count people living without homes, 9.8 per cent of respondents identified as Métis.

Lenard Monkman/CBC
Out of the 20 units, four are two-bedroom units, primarily for women and children fleeing domestic violence, Goodon said. The other 16 units are studios, and six are accessible for those with mobility issues. 

“Métis citizens are just like everybody else. They can fall on hard times,” he said.

Wraparound support will also be offered to residents of the new building, which includes help with addictions, employment services and navigation through Child and Family Services.

“That’s really so important when you’re at the lowest point in your life.”

The City of Winnipeg worked with the MMF on the $3.4-million project and is one of three new affordable housing projects in Winnipeg that received $12.7 million under the federal government’s rapid housing initiative, Goodon said.

Launched in 2021, the rapid housing initiative is part of the national housing strategy under the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp. The national housing strategy is a 10-year plan to invest $72 billion across Canada to improve housing conditions for Canadians.

Fre Maachi features a mural in its lobby by local Métis artist JD Hawk, 52, who experienced homelessness from 2013 to 2018.

“When [the MMF] told me what this mural was — where it was going to be and what the building was used for — that just touched me on a personal level,” Hawk told CBC.

Submitted by JD HawkThe mural, which took around 17 hours to complete, depicts a buffalo head in front of rifles, a Métis sash and a wheel from a Red River cart. Hawk said the mural represents hope and dignity for the Métis community.

“I wanted to show my pride, show the resilience of the Métis people, the community and our culture.”

Having a variety of supports in one spot at Fre Maachi will be a blessing for residents, he said.

“So it’s not just the housing itself, where you just go and have a place to stay, but the support system is there through the various programs.”

Hawk said he eventually got back on his feet thanks to a support system of family. The new housing project will be stepping stone to offer others the support he didn’t get when he first became homeless, he said.

“Having that support does give you hope, and that’s what people need.”

Walther Bernal/CBC
This is the MMF’s first housing project where the federation will run its own facility. They want to expand their housing strategies in places such as Brandon and Thompson next, Goodon said. 

“We see a lot of homelessness in Winnipeg, but that’s not the only place that it happens.”

Clients have already started to move in, he said. They are moving into the building in stages to ensure manageability for staff.

The goal of the project is to lift Métis citizens on their feet when they need support, said Goodon.

“Giving someone a hand up when they need it the most is something I think everyone should aspire to.”

Credit belongs to : ca.news.yahoo.com

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