Black Lake Denesuline Nation
The ancestors of the Black Lake Denesuline Nation came into Treaty 8 during the summer of 1899 on the shore of Lake Athabasca. Until fairly recently, the way of life for the people was 'on the land,' with neither the advantages nor disadvantages of a permanent village. Hunting, fishing and trapping is still a way of life that continues, and hunters and fishers share with both Elders and single-parent families. Some funds from the Trust are used to supplement the shot and gas that hunters and fishers need so they can continue providing for others.
The majority of Black Lake's membership has continued to live on-reserve, which means there is always a great need for housing. What makes this crucial need even more acute is the extensive black mold infestation in the existing houses. Despite the housing and the employment issues faced by the Black Lake Denesuline Nation membership; this is home.
There is a desperate need to clear out the mold infestation that causes people to suffer from a variety of low grade infections and headaches from living in a generally toxic environment. Housing shortages have become more acute as houses are either condemned due to excessive black mold or families have to move out while their homes are gutted and refinished.
The Black Lake Denesuline Nation decided to use a portion of the funds distributed by the First Nations Trust to fly in construction materials for the much needed renovations. Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) Engineering Department carried out the housing assessments, providing detailed repair and replacement lists for "in-need" houses. While it's true the freight charges are very high to haul in the materials, the cost of not having mold-free housing is even higher.
Chief and Council agreed on a training and construction process in which the tenant learns a wide range of construction and home maintenance skills under the direction of a construction supervisor. Mentoring local expertise in hanging and replacing windows and doors and drywall is done by the construction supervisor. With his supervision and with assistance from other workers, residents at Black Lake then take on the task of renovating their own homes. They will work their way through the repairs and improvement lists prepared by the PAGC Engineers to ensure northern needs and housing standards are met, or exceeded.
Black Lake Denesuline Nation determined its direction based on needs, and put in place programs consistent with their traditions.