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Sep
24 2012

KEY TO OUR CULTURE

Syndicated from: HFHC News

April is eager to expose Josh to the rich history of their people and has enrolled them both in Ojibwe language classes The beat of traditional drums at the dedication ceremony for her new home drew tears from April Smoke—and enthusiastic applause from her five-year-old son, Josh. The house was the first ever built by Habitat for Humanity in a First Nations community, giving April and Josh the opportunity to live securely and stay connected to their cultural roots. April's family had struggled with a cycle of poverty that she was determined to break. She moved to Windsor, Ontario to pursue post-secondary studies—500 kilometres from the Alderville reserve where she grew up. While she knew education was an important investment, the expense was a strain: all she could afford was a crowded house in an unsafe neighbourhood. Shortly after graduating, she heard Habitat for Humanity was looking to build in Alderville. Within four months of submitting her application she moved into a new home with her son, mother and brother. April says the house was truly a community effort. "I was surprised by everyone's generosity," she remarks. "People I didn't even know were coming out and lending a hand on the build site. I feel such a strong sense of belonging." An important part of that belonging has to do with her Ojibwe heritage. April is eager to expose Josh to the rich history of their people and has enrolled them both in Ojibwe language classes. "We Josh's home offers a whole new world to explore haven't lived here that long and he's already starting to understand that he's part of this culture. Seeing him excited about it is really rewarding," April says. She's also happy that Josh has a place he can truly call home. Growing up in a single-parent family, she herself moved around a lot. "I wanted to plant roots and give Josh a life he could be proud of," she says. April concludes that perhaps her happiest moment came when she overheard Josh tell someone that for his fifth birthday she was building him a house.

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