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The Champagne and Aishihik First Nations and the Yukon government broke ground on a new tiny home project in Haines Junction last week. The construction project will involve participants in a new skills training program. (Mike Rudyk) The Champagne and Aishihik First Nations in Yukon are taking a fresh approach to training and employing some citizens who might have a hard time finding work.

Dän Tsʼänānän is a training-to-employment program for First Nation citizens who have addictions or face other barriers to employment. The money for the program is coming from the federal government’s Skills and Partnership Fund.

The First Nations is taking an unusual approach in administering the program — if an employee misses work, they won’t be dropped from the program.

Champagne and Aishihik chief Steve Smith says sometimes people can get derailed.

"It’s doing it our way. It’s doing it from a Champagne and Aishihik perspective, and we help those who need the help," Smith said. ‘It’s doing it our way, It’s doing it from a Champagne and Aishihik perspective, and we help those who need the help,’ said Chief Steve Smith. (Wayne Vallevand ) "We listen to their story, we hear where they are at. And then once you have heard their story, you can offer the advice that they need, or give them direction on where they should pursue their path."

Dion Billy is a participant in the program, and he’s learning about plumbing skills. He says doing a full day’s work gives him a sense of pride.

"It makes me feel really good, you know — I can support my family and stuff, and it’s like money well-earned instead of it just coming for free," said Billy. ‘It makes me feel really good, you know — I can support my family and stuff, and it’s like money well-earned, instead of it just coming for free,’ said Dion Billy, a participant in the program. (Wayne Vallevand ) Affordable housing, employment and skills training

One project Billy and others from the program will be working on was just launched — a project to build ten tiny homes in Haines Junction by 2020.

The First Nations broke ground for the project last week. Smith says there is a long waiting list for homes in the community.

"We also have a quite a number of people who are single, and so when a single person puts an application in for a three-bedroom home, many times it is pushed off to the side because you want to put a family into a three-bedroom home or a large attached unit," Smith said.

He says the construction project will meet three criteria — affordable housing, employment and skills training.

Yukon Housing and the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations are together contributing $1 million to the project.

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