Inmates help build Habitat for Humanity home

Anyone driving by the Whitehorse Correctional Centre this month will likely hear the unmistakable sound of nail guns firing and hammers pounding away.

Anyone driving by the Whitehorse Correctional Centre this month will likely hear the unmistakable sound of nail guns firing and hammers pounding away.

That’s because four inmates have been working on pre-fabricated outer walls and a deck for a Habitat for Humanity Yukon duplex that is being built this summer in the Whistle Bend subdivision.

The inmates, all of whom have some carpentry experience, have completed the walls three weeks ahead of schedule and are currently working on the deck.

“They’re already finished and I couldn’t believe it, because the project was supposed to take until the end of the month,” said Valerie Mosser, deputy superintendent of programs at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre.

“They finished the walls in five days so we’re looking at this thinking, ‘OK we’re done, build the deck now!’”

The inmates were chosen to take part in the project based on interviews, their willingness to contribute and their past work performance, Mosser said.

“They’ve been very positive in the building and that factored in as well.”

This isn’t the first time the correctional centre has partnered with Habitat for Humanity Yukon, Yukon Housing and the Yukon government in a construction project.

They worked together on a triplex located in the Ingram subdivision in 2012, too.

The Whistle Bend duplex, Habitat’s second in the neighbourhood, will be constructed to SuperGreen standards. That should ensure that the home will be well insulated, air tight and well ventilated.

The pre-fabricated walls, about six of them, will soon be taken by trailer to Whistle Bend, Mosser said.

Working on the project gives offenders pride and satisfaction, she said.

“It allows them to give back to the community as well,” she added.

“We’ve seen that in past with other projects we’ve done. Not only are they giving back but they’re learning some skills and tool safety.”

Habitat for Humanity Yukon director Terry Rufiange-Holway said the idea for the partnership came to him after a program that once allowed offenders to work on the actual building site fell through.

“I thought, there has to be a way to get these guys involved, to have a training opportunity so they can learn marketable skills to take back to their communities,” he said.

“I’ve been down south to Edmonton and Lethbridge where they have pre-fab plants, and so I thought that’s the perfect thing that we need up here. I thought who better to run it than guys who maybe don’t have enough programs, which is something we often hear in the media.”

Habitat for Humanity Yukon is currently in the process of selecting which families will live in the duplex.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com