CHSS construction students build dog houses for Oneida Nation of the Thames
February 5, 2018
GUELPH, Ontario – On Monday, 15 dog houses built by construction students at College Heights Secondary School were loaded onto a truck, ready to provide shelter for dogs in First Nation communities.
For the last several years, staff and students at CHSS have been building life-saving dog houses for northern communities.
This year, the houses are being sent to Oneida Nation of the Thames, near London, Ontario. Once the houses arrive, some will also be taken to Munsee Delaware Nation and Chippewas of the Thames First Nation.
Alison Bressette and Margaret Gelinas, from the Aboriginal Community and Animal Advocacy Connection (AC&AAC), were at CHSS speaking to students about the impact these houses have in the communities and to talk about animal welfare.
Bressette has been working in First Nation animal welfare and advocacy for the past 10 years. In addition to her work with the Oneida people, Gelinas has been travelling up north for the last eight years with the International Fund for Animal Welfare. She told the students that every single dog house that gets built is so appreciated.
Part of the work of AC&AAC is to raise awareness in First Nation communities about the importance of spaying and neutering your dogs. Bressette believes there are around 500 dogs in Oneida, and they are working to get a better idea of the numbers and need for shelter.
On Monday, Bressette praised the students for the quality of their work, saying the dog houses that are built at CHSS are top notch. She has even shared the CHSS construction and design template with other communities and organizations so they can build their own dog houses.
Students walked their guests through the construction process, from framing and insulation, to shingling the roofs. The houses took about 30 hours over a three-week period to complete.
Students said the project brought up a lot of questions, for example, why build the houses with a flat roof, rather than the stereotypical peaked roof? They learned that the dogs like to lie on top of the roofs in the summer, basking in the sun.
UGDSB staff said the dog house project is a great example of a real life project that really means something. Staff discussed the possibility of extending the project even further, by having students visit First Nation reserves and build with the community members, something Alison said would be a great step in the process of truth and reconciliation.