NEWS: Nunavut July 09, 2012 - 4:30 am

Habitat for Humanity Iqaluit gives life to dreams and helps build new skills

“I’m learning how to hammer things and build tables and help build walls and insulate”


Soon Aaron Watson’s kids will get more room to play.

That’s because he and his family were chosen by Habitat for Humanity to work on a new three-bedroom home that they will acquire, built from the ground up, with an interest-free mortgage.

They will donate five hundred hours of volunteer work on the home, or “sweat equity,” in lieu of a down payment.  Local volunteers, as well as Global Village volunteers, will help with the build. 

“I didn’t think we were the chosen family because it took forever for them to notify us, but it was a surprise for me,” Watson’s wife, Marlene Watson said.

The idea is to offer people who can afford to carry a mortgage some help in getting it.

“It’s for working people who just aren’t able to quite get it together and save enough for a mortgage,” Watson said.

The house they will move into in October, if all goes as planned, is located in Apex across from the playground.

Right now, the couple, and their children, Owen, 4, and Karena, 7, live in a four-plex near the Apex Road Quickstop, where Watson works as night supervisor.

Marlene works for the Department of Economic Development and Transportation at the Government of Nunavut.

Traffic near the four-plex is quite busy, and that can be a worry for parents with small children, another reason they say Apex will work out for them.

Watson did a lot of research into Habitat for Humanity before applying and was aware of their previous builds in the city, on the Road to Nowhere and on Federal Road.

“After trying to get a mortgage over the years and having just not the right numbers for the bank, we decided to try and apply for it,” Watson said.

Not only helpful financially, it’s a good learning experience for the family, because they get to learn about building a house.

“We’ll get to know the ins and outs of our home pretty well through this process,” he said, adding, “I’m learning how to hammer things and build tables and help build walls and insulate. It’s all new to me.”

Watson, who is originally from Stratford, Ont., met Marlene, from Coral Harbour, in Rankin Inlet eight years ago before relocating to Iqaluit, where they have been raising their children.

“It’s very exciting to build a home and have the learning experience and in the end we’re excited to be homeowners,” she said.

“Both my children were born here so this is my home,” he added.

The couple learned their application had been accepted around the end of June.

“It’s a blind and fair process and we were truly surprised when we were the selected family,” Watson said.

It’s been rewarding for them to be involved with the house right from the beginning.

“That’s been fun so far because already in less than two weeks we’ve seen the piles driven and the floor joists laid, the crawlspace framed and the walls raised,” Watson said.

Currently, there are extra hard hats and boots on site, and people are welcome to come and help while learning what it takes to build a house.

Iqaluit is the only Habitat location that gets Global Village volunteers so “we are very lucky,” Watson said.

And the crew is making fantastic progress, Glenn Cousins, chair of Habitat for Humanity Iqaluit said.

“We try to make sure we do everything up to standard,” he said.

Watson agrees that it’s been a good experience.

“I’d be happy to help with future builds with this organization,” he said.

Meanwhile, Owen looks forward to his new room, which he says will be painted orange.

Karena is planning a pink and black Monster High theme for her room and likes the prospect of going to the nearby playground.

“We could walk there,” she said.