ARCHIVED - Fighting Mold: A Story of Three Communities

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Kahnawake's children are breathing easier after the First Nations community took decisive action to combat mold in their homes, schools and other buildings.

Leaders in the Kahnawake community in Quebec have tackled their mold problem by, for example, requiring all tradespeople performing renovation or construction work in the community to receive training by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

As an additional precaution, Kahnawake's leaders also extended training to people who maintain community institutions such as schools, daycares and band offices.

That kind of commitment is empowering First Nations communities not only in Kahnawake, but also in places like Wikwemikong Unceded First Nations on Manitoulin Island, Ontario, and Gitga'at First Nation in Hartley Bay, British Columbia- to protect the health and well being of their residents.

Mold can be the source of allergies and respiratory illnesses. Especially vulnerable are those who stay home the most — such as young children, the elderly and the chronically ill.

In the Gitga'at case, the band housing manager — after participating in CMHC workshops — organized and trained unemployed youth on the reserve to tackle the mold clean-up. Training was also extended to other residents so they could maintain their homes and prevent the return of mold.

Similarily, Wikwemikong's situation demonstrated that commitment, expertise and the proper training can enable a community to move forward in assessing and addressing their mold problem. In that case, the mold was linked to construction practices that were not the most suitable for the community's geographic location near water.

Training was a major part of the solution for this community as it is for other communities. Crawlspaces, basements and poor ventilation design were part of the problem identified by the team for this specific reserve. With training, First Nations' builders began to build new homes that are well-insulated, energy efficient, have good ventilation and no crawlspaces or basements.

These determined communities and others are gathering knowledge, gaining experience and building partnerships in an effort to combat mold and make their homes safe and healthy.

Each of these forward-thinking communities is drawing on the commitment of homeowners, the determination of community leadership and the help, knowledge and expertise of organizations researching solutions to the mold problem on-reserve.

Through its Housing Quality Initiative CMHC works with First Nations communities to help them build the capacity to prevent, remediate and manage mold and related housing quality problems.



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