Leaders from the Forest Sector and Non-Profits Volunteer for 
Habitat Greater Ottawa Build to Support Indigenous Youth

August 7th, 2019|

August 7, 2019

OTTAWA, ON—The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) is bringing together forest sector and non-profit leaders to volunteer on a Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa build.“This build is a chance for us to address important issues like Indigenous housing and youth empowerment.We envision a world that values and benefits from sustainably managed forests. Using sustainable forest products while building a sense of community and opportunity supports our mission,” says Paul Robitaille, SFI’s Manager of Indigenous and Youth Relations.

These leaders are coming together through the Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa’s Indigenous Youth Build Program. The program provides high-level skills and tool training, build site experience, and exposure to the trades with possible job placement introductions.

“I am loving it so far and I am remembering a lot of things I learned from last year. This year, I feel I can be more hands on and use more of the tools. I love using the drills and I learned to cut rebar. I feel I’m more confident in my skills. I think everyone else is enjoying it and it feels great to be helping someone in need and helping them with their house,” said Penny Etokto, a youth build program participant.

The program also provides Indigenous youth with the opportunity to learn about the affordable housing crisis in Ottawa and a chance to give back to the community as volunteers. The build, Leacross Landing, is in Orleans and when completed it will include 16 townhouses.

“SFI is passionate about responsibly sourced forest products being used for projects that improve our quality of life. At SFI we are committed to sustainability in the communities where we live and work so joining one of our closest partners, Habitat for Humanity GO, on a project that empowers Indigenous youth and provides affordable housing to families is a huge win,” said Kathy Abusow, President and CEO of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

Since 2008, the SFI community has donated countless volunteer hours and SFI-certified products to numerous Habitat for Humanity builds across Canada and the U.S. In 2014, SFI and Habitat for Humanity Canada signed a memorandum of mutual support known as Wood 4 Good. This program encourages local home building through SFI’s grassroots network, increases awareness of sourcing wood products certified to the SFI standards, and helps make supply chains more efficient. The partnership also works to encourage collaborative solutions to support Indigenous housing in Canada.

“We’re once again very proud to be partnering with Sustainable Forestry Initiative for Phase III of our Leacross Landing development. SFI’s ongoing financial and volunteer support shows their commitment to community leadership and a shared belief that everyone deserves a safe, affordable place to call home. Thank you for helping us build more homes,” said Marc Caron, Interim CEO, Habitat Greater Ottawa.

Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa’s Leacross Landing Phase III development is supported in part by the Indigenous Youth Build Program in partnership with Tungasuvvingat Inuit, a multi-sector hub for Inuit of all ages. The program is made possible with funding from Schneider Electric, the Home Depot Canada Foundation and additional sponsorship from SFI.

“It’s a great build crew! Everybody is really friendly and really helpful, and they try to make us do different things we haven’t done before. I see myself and the students wanting to do this again, it won’t be just a onetime thing,” said Bobby Eelee, an employment counselor at Tungasuvvingat Inuit.


About SFI

SFI®Inc. is a sustainability leader that stands for future forests. We are an independent, non-profit organization that provides supply chain assurances, delivers conservation leadership, and supports environmental education and community engagement. SFI works with the forest sector, brand owners, conservation groups, resource professionals, landowners, educators, local communities, Indigenous peoples, governments, and universities. SFI standards and on-product labels help consumers make responsible purchasing decisions. Additionally, we oversee the SFI Forest Partners®Program, which aims to increase supply of certified forest products, the SFI Conservation and Community Partnerships Grant Program, which funds research and community building, and Project Learning Tree®, which educates teachers and youth about forests and the environment. SFI Inc. is governed by an independent three chamber board of directors representing environmental, social, and economic sectors equally. SFI believes caring for forests improves everyone’s quality of life. Learn more.

Media Contact

Paul Robitaille
Manager, Indigenous and Youth Relations, Sustainable Forestry Initiative

About Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa

With the help of volunteers and Habitat homeowners, Habitat for Humanity builds safe, decent and affordable homes, including single-family and multi-unit houses. Habitat has been building homes in Ottawa since 1993 and has served 76 local families over the last 25 years.
Habitat does not give away free homes—the families who partner with us pay an interest-free mortgage geared to their income and volunteer 500 hours with our organization. As Habitat homeowners pay off their mortgage, the funds are reinvested into a revolving fund, which we then use to build more homes for more families in the community. Our model of affordable homeownership bridges a gap for low-income working families by providing them with the opportunity to purchase their own Habitat home and build a better future for their family.
According to a 2013 Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) survey, Habitat for Humanity families are happier, healthier, and more financially secure after moving into their Habitat Home. 89% say their family life has improved, 86% report being happier, 70% report improved health and stress, and 65% report an improvement in their children’s confidence.  The study found that for every $1 invested in a Habitat home, $4 in social benefits are returned to the community. To learn more, visit habitatgo.com.

Media Contact

Sandra Oey
Development and Marketing Manager, Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa
613-749-9950 ext. 257


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