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How Justin Marchand, executive director of Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services, is creating homes for those in need
The small town of Sioux Lookout, Ont., sits halfway between Thunder Bay and Winnipeg, enveloped by picturesque lakes, dense forest and the Canadian Shield. It’s home to roughly 5,000 people and the Sioux Lookout Airport, a hub for travellers flying between southern cities and remote northern communities.
In late 2015, as temperatures crept below freezing, a chief from a First Nations community asked the town’s mayor, Doug Lawrance, whether he could house two of its members who had moved to Sioux Lookout but had nowhere to stay. Lawrance called a handful of local housing agencies, but none had room; they were already struggling to find beds for dozens of people, most of them Indigenous. “There were just no solutions,” Lawrance said at the time. So he wrote to the provincial ministry responsible for housing, pleading for help. “The need is incredible.”
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