Discover more from Big Talk
Improving First Nations Housing
Meet the man rebuilding First Nations communities one house at a time.
Meet Mathew Point. Mathew is the founder and owner of Creek Cedar Contracting. He believes in building great homes on-reserve, but also building up a strong workforce.
I first met Mathew as a Business Recovery Advisor. We sat down, and he shared his philosophy with me - and I was blown away! He wasn’t talking about how many houses he wanted to build, or getting rich - he was talking about building capacity within his team.
As many know, Indigenous people across Canada have been through a lot. First there was colonization, then there was Indian Residential Schools, then a potlatch ban, then the 60s scoop, and now there are many kids in care. Family traditions - decimated. Community pride - destroyed. A sense of health and wellbeing - in shambles. For years, the goal was to remove the savage from the Indian, and the legacies of the policies live on.
Aaron Pete from the Bigger Than Me Podcast is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
This means that it can be tough for many First Nations people to get a good education, and find gainful employment. More than that, it is tough to find a workplace that values you, and believes you have potential. Most businesses want to see if you can do the job, and if not - you’re outta there. This puts an extra strain on Indigenous people who may be able to do the work, but need a bit more support and help to find their groove.
That is where Mathew comes in. His mindset is to try to take on staff that he can help with in their personal and professional development. He talked about helping his staff budget not only their finances but their time. He has them note how long it took them to do a job for the first time, then compare that to 3 months down the road and see the improvement. He tries to encourage his staff to budget, to pay off their debts to the band office, and develop a financial plan. He tries to help them develop new skills, and grow within their profession.
Now, at this point you may be thinking - well that all just makes good sense. But, the culture within trades can be very cut-throat and individual development doesn’t seem to be a common theme. I worked as a landscaper for a tiny 4 months and in that time nobody knew my name, or anything about me. I was there to cut grass, and that’s about it. I was easily replaceable and I felt that.
What I think Mathew is doing is really unique, and desperately needed.
Beyond helping First Nations people develop themselves, his business also helps keep money in First Nation communities local economies. Let me illustrate, say the government gives my community, Chawathil First Nation, 1 million to develop further housing. We contact a housing developer in Hope or Chilliwack, and they give us a few quotes. They do good work, and we give them the money we received. Now, the money is with that company in Hope or Chilliwack, it has left our economy.
Mathew’s approach is to hire Indigenous people living in the local communities, so that when he pays his staff, it returns to those communities. Now, proceeds from that 1 million are spread throughout our territory, rather than leaving the region. Further, he aims to invest proceeds into local soccer fields, basketball fields, parks and other community based infrastructure. In short, the employee is better off, the home owner is better off, and the First Nation community as a whole is better off with Mathew’s philosophy.
That was why I was eager to sit down with him, because as warm and fuzzy as this all sounds - I can’t imagine it is easy. Not all staff members are open to personal development, not all First Nation communities see the long term vision, and as he scales it will be more challenging to infuse his vision into the culture of the staff. But, if his vision works it will not only benefit him but countless Indigenous communities.
His philosophy, similar to mine, is inspired by Jordan B. Peterson. Probably one of the most misunderstood, misrepresented individuals in modern times. See if you know Jordan for his political views, then you’re missing out on the best part in my view. I felt directionless for a long time, when I started listening to Jordan it meant a great deal to hear that I had an untapped potential that I needed to live up to. That I could be so much more than I was, and that the world needed me to step up and do my part.
I’ve heard many people talk about the positive impact his videos, books and lectures have had. I’ve spoken to individuals who struggled with alcohol use, depression, anxiety, and a sense of emptiness and his philosophy helped. Agree or disagree with him, he has absolutely improved the lives of people and seems to bring the best out in them.
We are lucky Mathew has chosen this path. We are lucky he hung up the political cap, and decided to try to make an entrepreneurial difference. His idea is inspirational. He is inspirational. If you want to learn more you can tune into the full interview on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and YouTube.