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Tsilhqo’tin First Nation community continues to build homes for community members

Tl’esqox First Nation west of Williams Lake is adding another four homes, 26 units already in place

Just before Christmas 2022, Mary Tenale moved into a brand new home at Tl’esqox First Nation in the Cariboo Chilcotin.

Prior to that she had been living in Williams Lake for about five or six years because there was no housing available in her home community.

While she is extremely happy to have a home, she said it is surreal and she cannot quite believe it.

“I have not really put up any pictures yet,” she said as she pointed to the bare walls around her living room and dining area, where there was a solo print on the wall.

Tenale is a mom and grandma who is starting over in some ways, she said.

Since she was 19-years-old she has always lived with family members.

This is the first time in her entire life that she is living on her own.

“I love it,” she said, smiling, but added her home is big enough to host family gatherings.

Outside there is a brand new woodshed stacked with wood, which she said kept her toasty warm in the winter.

If it gets really cold she can always turn on the electric heat.

She has a spare room where her grandson can stay if he comes for a visit.

Her rent is affordable, she added.

Tl’esqox First Nation is one of six Tsilhqot’in communities and is located 50 km west of Williams Lake.

In 2021, the community received Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation funding to the tune of $8 million to build 20 new residential units.

It would be the first new housing for the community in over 20 years.

Fast forward to May 2023 and some residents have moved into a new six-plex or one of 20 individual homes.

Tenale’s has a walk-in shower because it is one of the accessible homes.

On Thursday, May 11, chief and council held a ground-breaking ceremony at a site where four more homes will be built.

Housing manager Joey Isnardy who is also a band councillor since 2016, leads the project and said funding for the new family homes is from the Tsilhqot’in National Government.

“We are going to keep moving forward and the next step will be to get more lots for the community,” Isnardy said. “We have a second reserve IR2 by the old Riske Creek School where we would like to start building.”

Chief Francis Laceese said housing has always been an issue and the population of Tl’esqox First Nation is growing.

“We do have to house everyone from youth to elders and we have to look after everybody,” Laceese said. “That’s our goal and I think it is really important for government and industry to know that you need good housing to raise good families and have a good environment in the community.”

Darren McEachen, owner of Titan Built Construction is the general contractor.

Carsten Jorgensen of Carwen Ltd. does all the excavation and tie-in to existing water and sewer.

They said work would get underway Monday, May 15 and it takes an average of nine months to build each home with a crew of about six people.

READ MORE: Tl’esqox First Nation (Toosey) receives CMHC funding for 20 new residential units

READ MORE: Tl’esqox First Nation purchases sign business in Williams Lake

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Monica Lamb-Yorski

About the Author: Monica Lamb-Yorski

A B.C. gal, I was born in Alert Bay, raised in Nelson, graduated from the University of Winnipeg, and wrote my first-ever article for the Prince Rupert Daily News.
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