Students in Yukon University’s housing maintainer program work on one of the two houses provided by the Tr'ondëk Hwëchin for the program. The houses were gutted and retrofitted as part of the program. (Submitted/Simon Vincent)

Yukon University wraps up housing maintainer program

Seven students renovated two homes owned by the Tr’ondëk Hwëchin over seven months

Seven Yukon University students are putting their skills to use both at home and at work.

The housing maintainer program at Yukon University in Dawson City wrapped up in May with seven students renovating two homes owned by the Tr’ondëk Hwëchin over seven months.

The program came about thanks to a partnership between the university and the First Nation.

The beginning

As Peter Marangu, Tr’ondëk Hwëchin’s director of housing and infrastructure, explained in a June 2 interview, there had been discussions with the university (then Yukon College) over the years about the possibility of a program that would focus on training community members for pre-apprenticeships and home building work.

Initially, officials looked at programs elsewhere that saw students train through building tiny houses.

Marangu noted for Tr’ondëk Hwëchin there is a big concern with the energy efficiancy of some of its older buildings. After looking at the possibilities, work began to develop a program that would see students gain skills through a retrofit of two older houses owned by the First Nation.

“It’s a good direction for us,” Marangu said.

As Yukon University officials noted in a statement, such a program is important in Dawson, where there is a housing shortage, as graduates have the sills to maintain and work on existing and new homes.

Through the partnership, Yukon University provided the training to seven students with Tr’ondëk Hwëchin providing the homes and funding for the program.

Skills gained

The program ran from October to May.

Instructor Simon Vincent said the program gave students an opportunity to “try a bit of everything”. While approximately 90 per cent of the program focused on carpentry, there was also some electrical and plumbing work done, giving students an opportunity to try out different trades, perhaps determining a profession in a specific trade they would like to pursue.

“It was a complete retrofit,” Vincent said, as he described work to install new vapour barriers, insulation, roofing work and more.

“It was quite extensive,” he said.

Along with hands-on training students received through the reno work, they also worked to upgrade their math skills during class time held in the mornings for the first five months of the program.

The program was not without some challenges though as it was run during a time when there is shortage of building materials due to COVID-19.

At times, while waiting for certain materials to come in for various parts of the renovations, students would complete a project in their own homes.

“We got pretty good at improvising,” Vincent said, adding students have noted they are pleased to get some work in their own homes done and benefit from it every day.

Vincent noted each of the seven students have moved on to jobs where they are using the skills learned through the course, with some looking at going into trades.

Over the next few weeks, he will be reviewing the program — what worked well, challenges and future improvements.

What it means for the community

Marangu said along with growing skills and confidence within the community, the housing maintainer program is also helping to move the community toward less reliance on fossil fuels.

“(There’s) all-around improvements to the houses and energy performance,” Marangu siad. “For the community it’s very important.”

He also emphasized the opportunities this gives students to pursue careers in the trades.

The two homes will be added to Tr’ondëk Hwëchin’s housing stock to be rented out for the benefit of members.

An ongoing partnership

The housing maintainer program is one of three programs Yukon University offered through the winter in partnership with the First Nation.

The other two included a multi-trades program and office administration program with the First Nation providing student support, building sites and materials for each.

The First Nation and students celebrated the completion of the program on May 28.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at

Yukon University

Just Posted

Lorraine Kuhn is seen with one of the many volleyball teams she coached. (Photo submitted by Sport Yukon)
The Yukon Sports Hall of Fame inducts the late Lorraine Kuhn

Lorraine Kuhn became the newest member of the Yukon Sports Hall of Fame for her work in growing volleyball amongst other sports

File Photo
A Yukon judge approved dangerous offender status for a man guilty of a string of assaults in 2020.
Yukon judge sentences dangerous offender to indefinite prison term

Herman Peter Thorn, 51, was given the sentence for 2020 assaults, history of violence

Crystal Schick/ Yukon News A former residential school in the Kaska Dena community of Lower Post will be demolished on June 21. Crystal Schick/ Yukon News
Lower Post residential school demolition postponed

On June 21, the old residential school in Lower Post will be demolished and new ground on a multi-cultural centre will be broken

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley announced 29 new COVID-19 cases on June 19 and community transmission among unvaccinated individuals. (Yukon News file)
Yukon logs record-high 29 new COVID-19 cases

F.H. Collins prom attendees and some Porter Creek Grade 9 students are instructed to self-isolate as community transmission sweeps through unvaccinated populations

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before using it on Nov. 24. The Yukon government is reopening the drive-thru option on June 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Drive-up COVID-19 testing opening June 18 in Whitehorse

The drive-up testing will be open from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. everyday and increase testing capacity by 33 spots

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council at its June 14 meeting

Murray Arsenault sits in the drivers seat of his 1975 Bricklin SV1 in Whitehorse on June 16. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Bringing the 1975 Bricklin north

Murray Arsenault remembers his dad’s Bricklin, while now driving his own

A presumptive COVID case was found at Seabridge Gold’s 3 Aces project. (file photo)
Presumptive COVID-19 case reported at mine in southeast Yukon

A rapid antigen rest found a presumptive COVID case on an incoming individual arriving at the 3Aces project

Jonathan Antoine/Cabin Radio
Flooding in Fort Simpson on May 8.
Fort Simpson asked for military help. Two people showed up.

FORT SIMPSON—Residents of a flooded Northwest Territories village expected a helping hand… Continue reading

A woman was rescued from the Pioneer Ridge Trail in Alaska on June 16. (Photo courtesy/AllTrails)
Alaska hiker chased off trail by bears flags down help

ANCHORAGE (AP)—An Alaska hiker who reported needing help following bear encounters on… Continue reading

Two participants cross the finish line at the City of Whitehorse Kids Triathlon on June 12 with Mayor Dan Curtis on hand to present medals. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
2021 Kids’ Triathlon draws 76 young athletes

Youth ages five to 14 swim, run and bike their way to finish line

NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq rises in the House of Commons, in Ottawa on May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Unacceptable’ that Inuk MP felt unsafe in House of Commons, Miller says

OTTAWA—It’s a “sad reflection” on Canada that an Inuk MP feels she’s… Continue reading

Lily Witten performs her Canadian Nationals beam routine on June 14. John Tonin/Yukon News
Three Yukon gymnasts break 20-year Nationals absence

Bianca Berko-Malvasio, Maude Molgat and Lily Witten competed at the Canadian Nationals – the first time in 20 years the Yukon’s been represented at the meet

Most Read