May 13, 2022

Eight local Habitats recognized for their work as national award winners announced

From May 11 to 13, Habitat for Humanity Canada held its National Conference and Annual General Meeting in London, Ontario, which included celebrating the achievements of local Habitats during its National Award Celebration Gala and Dinner. Eight local Habitats were recognized for their 2021 efforts and accomplishments. Congratulations to all the winners! Read more to find out who won.

The Kenneth J. Meinert Leadership Award was developed to honour individuals who, through exceptional leadership, have significantly advanced the mission of Habitat for Humanity in Canada. This award has been developed to pay tribute to the contributions of Ken Meinert and to articulate and reward those leadership traits that personify the very best of Habitat’s values and culture. The winner of this award may also designate a $10,000 grant to their chosen area of Habitat’s work. The grant is donated by BAILEY Metal Products in honour of Ken’s retirement from the company.

Peter Sanderson
Peter Sanderson: former Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North’s board member, former volunteer Build Manager, former staff Project Manager, current build consultant and a three-decade build volunteer, and Kenneth J. Meinert Leadership award winner in front of a Habitat build project named after him.

The winner of this year’s Kenneth J. Meinert Leadership Award is Peter Sanderson.

Peter first began volunteering with Habitat in Manitoba in the early 1990s, later relocating in the early 2000s. On the west coast, Peter volunteered with Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North’s (VIN) deconstruction crews, tearing down homes to provide wood and other reclaimed building materials for resale at the ReStore. In 2005, he was invited to join Habitat VIN’s Board of Directors. Peter is a constant presence on build sites and currently serves as a staff consultant to build a “land bank” and secure future Habitat developments. Peter exhibits a steadfast commitment to Habitat and works collaboratively to build community. He models compassion and respectfulness in everything he does. Described as an outstanding professional, mentor, teacher and exceptional leader, Peter embodies and exemplifies Habitat’s mission.

The One Habitat Award is the integration of all we do – communications, operations, governance – with the goal of serving more families in our country and around the world. The winner of the One Habitat award lives and breathes this spirit by embodying the idea of ‘one world, one Habitat’.

This year’s winner, Habitat for Humanity Grey Bruce demonstrates a strong commitment to a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live. To date, Habitat Grey Bruce, in partnership with two local First Nations communities – the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation and Saugeen First Nation – has completed 21 homes on First Nations Territory. In addition, Habitat Grey Bruce continues its pledge to build one house internationally for every house built locally, increasing its international commitments through tithing.

In 2021, Habitat Grey Bruce facilitated an introduction between Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga-Dufferin and the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation’s Housing Department for a pilot project to build Tiny Homes with high school students from Halton and Halton-Catholic District School Boards. These Tiny Homes will be transported to this First Nation this summer to address the housing shortage for individuals in need.

Other accomplishments for this smaller-sized Habitat include hosting 90 pre-pandemic Team Build days including three Global Village teams from Habitat Canada in 2019, sharing its model of partnering with Indigenous communities – which led to two other local Habitats partnering with First Nations, and introducing Habitat Canada to Four Seasons of Reconciliation, an online program to educate Canadians on Indigenous Peoples and history, an important step forward towards reconciliation for all Habitats in Canada.

The Community Outreach Award recognizes two local Habitats that have generated tangible results by better engaging community partners and building strong community relationships.

Habitat for Humanity Kingston Limestone Region won for completion of a years-long build project in 2021 with the Anglican Diocese of Ontario to demolish an aging church and construct a community centre in exchange for six Habitat homes on the retained parcel of land. This initiative, the first partnership of its kind for the Anglican Church of Canada, has not only raised the profile of Habitat in the Kingston area, but its success has also led to increased partnership with the City of Kingston. Habitat Kingston recently began construction for four townhomes on land donated by the city, which is also offering land for a phased development of up to 65 homes, as part of an overall rejuvenation project in an area of need.

Habitat for Humanity Edmonton developed a Community Advisory Council with members including Habitat homeowners and members of the community to better engage and build stronger relationships with the community. The council provides high-level recommendations to Habitat Edmonton’s Board of Directors in the areas of affordable housing, industry and innovation, and critical issues affecting Habitat’s communities.

The Environmental & Sustainability Award recognizes two local Habitats with building programs that demonstrate environmental responsibility and sustainability by reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Habitat for Humanity Fredericton Area relied on several subject matter experts in the housing industry, completed Energy Star Builder and NetZero Builder certifications through the Canadian Home Builders Association, and identified key sub-contractors with a strong focus on energy efficient building practices. Its home builds use over 40% less energy in comparison to conventional homes, resulting in efficiency rebates to help off-set the cost of efficient building practices, and lower utility costs for families.

Habitat for Humanity Manitoba achieved its province’s Hydro Power Smart Gold level, built 32 homes that are certified as either LEED Platinum or LEED Gold and built five NET ZERO homes which are up to 80% more energy efficient than a home built to conventional standards. These homes, once built, are also carbon free, reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions by 100%. In monitoring more that 150 of Habitat Manitoba’s built homes, the average all in energy costs for families is under $100 per month. In addition, they have implemented an extensive recycling program, reducing onsite build waste by 95%.

The Expanded Impact Award recognizes two local Habitats that have significantly increased its impact over the past year.

Habitat for Humanity Grey Bruce partnered with the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation in 2016 to build homes with families of this community. The evolution of this partnership was so successful that in 2021, this Habitat extended this same "Model of Hope" partnership to Saugeen First Nation in Southampton, Ontario. In serving Saugeen First Nation, Habitat Grey Bruce built a relationship with this new community during the height of the pandemic to foster the development of safe, decent, affordable new housing in this community. Moreover, they hired tradespeople from this community to work on their builds. Last year, this affiliate expanded its impact by building 300% more, constructing eight homes with these two First Nations.

Habitat for Humanity Heartland Ontario experienced an increase of 83% in families served and a 20% increase in active volunteers in 2021. Not only did Habitat Heartland Ontario successfully merge with another Habitat, expanding into two new counties and serving hundreds more individuals, it expanded its service programming through its renovations and skills development training programs. Additionally, it collaborated with other local Habitats to update its homeowner’s application process and created e-learning modules for volunteers to increase volunteer engagement.

The Family Partnership Award recognizes a local Habitat that has achieved better family engagement and better outcomes for families over the term of their partnership by improving family communications, processes, homeowner education and training opportunities.

Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North supports family well-being through skill development and fostering community connections before a family moves into their new Habitat home. Habitat VIN has also implemented processes to develop and maintain successful relationships with families such as: 1) recruiting volunteers to provide additional application support for families, 2) mandating families wait a week before signing partnership agreements to encourage thoughtful consideration, 3) revamping its homeownership education course with input from current homeowners and 4) hosting ‘townhalls’ for new homeowners to meet their neighbours. Due to their ongoing work in creating successful partnerships, this Habitat experiences effective and positive collaboration with homeowners in every stage of their journey.

The Innovation Award recognizes the innovative ways a local Habitat is having more impact, including leveraging their financial and other assets, designing or constructing more efficiently/effectively, or serving families differently.

Habitat for Humanity Windsor-Essex partnered with the University of Windsor and other industry partners to begin fabricating Canada’s very first 3D printed residential homes in Leamington, Ontario. The use of this technology is expected to reduce financial and labour costs, project timelines, and material waste once perfected.

The Volunteer Outreach Award recognizes a local Habitat for new and interesting ways to engage and acknowledge volunteers that have improved the impact of its volunteer program.

At the heart of all we do are volunteers. Habitat for Humanity Windsor-Essex pivoted during the pandemic to develop a robust virtual volunteer program to ensure volunteer participation in all program streams, while protecting the health and safety of volunteers and the community. Through this program, training, advocacy and awareness opportunities have skyrocketed, virtual volunteers have become regular donors to Habitat Windsor-Essex’s build program, 27 high school students were able to complete their 20 hours of mandatory community service when in-person community opportunities did not exist, and perhaps, best of all, this virtual program has allowed Habitat Windsor-Essex to be accessible to all community members who wish to participate regardless of any physical limitations.

Congratulations to all our local Habitats for these well-deserved wins!