‘Nenookaasiins’ opens in Winnipeg’s North End to provide affordable housing for youth aging out of care

A new housing project for Indigenous youth in care or those aging out of the child welfare system in Manitoba is now complete after undergoing renovations.

The apartment building in Winnipeg’s North End used to be a burned out, abandoned building, but it’s been renovated into 18 units and will give up to 24 Indigenous youth in care or aging out of care affordable housing.

“The youth are the most important people. They are why we do this. And we are so very grateful to have been able to bring this idea to life through the opportunities that we receive through our funding. With that support we can bring our big ideas and create something like this and our youth are the ones that are going to benefit,” said Brandy Kowal, project manager at Shawenim Abinoojii.

“It doesn’t matter what we think or what we want, it’s what they need and that’s what we want to centre by doing this project.”

The building is named Nenookaasiins, which means Little Hummingbird in Anishinaabe. It was bought in 2021 by Shawenim Abinoojii after it received $3 million from the federal government’s Rapid Housing Initiative.

As part of the Southeast Tribal Council, Shawenim serves eight First Nations in southern Manitoba.

Tatyanna Monkman-Hudson has been accessing services provided by Shawenim Abinoojii since she aged out of care at 21.

“It’s been a positive impact and they’ve helped me out so much. When I was transitioning out of care they were a big support and still continue to be,” she said.

“They’ve been continuous support to this day and I want to continue to use it, like use the resources in the community. They’ve actually taught me how to be a powerful leader.”

The NDP-MLA for Point Douglas, Bernadette Smith, said the new building will be a game-changer for youth.

“We see so many kids aging out of care that are in so many different systems and this is going to ensure that our families stay together, that they don’t go into those systems and hopefully this is one of many buildings that will be transformed in the North End here,” she said.

The building will also have a cultural space, computer area and various programming rooms.

Winnipeg mayor Brian Bowman said there needs to be more love in the community, “and you can just feel the positive energy in this space,” he said.

Tenants are expected to move in this month.

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