How straw homes could help solve the First Nations housing crisis

Indigenous communities across the province are dealing with inadequate housing. Farmers’ fields may hold the answer

construction on a straw house
Workers from the Endeavour Centre construct an office building for the Trillium Lakelands Elementary Teachers’ Local in Lindsay, Ontario, in 2014. (Courtesy of the Endeavour Centre)

You’ve probably seen the pale-yellow bales of straw dotting farmers’ fields throughout Ontario. The remnants of cereal harvests, they can be used as fodder and biofuel — and, increasingly, as construction material, forming and insulating the walls of rural homes.

Marianne Griffith, director of the London-based non-profit Building Better, says she’s seen a spike in interest in sustainable-living projects from Indigenous communities, including Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, which has launched the Chippewa Sustainable Living Project, a two-hectare site that will showcase sustainable living technologies like an off-the-grid home and self-sufficient tiny homes. “Most recently we’ve worked predominantly with First Nations,” she says. “It wasn’t necessarily something that we set out to do, but it’s looking like it’s our new direction.”  MORE