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Single mom gets home from Habitat for Humanity

Karen Mackenzie
Northern News Services
Monday, June 18, 2007

IQALUIT - A single mother and her high school son are the lucky recipients of Habitat for Humanity's northernmost home.

Habitat's Iqaluit affiliate announced June 13 that Pauyungi Aqpik and her son Adam Aqpik will benefit from its first local build.

"I was shocked, happy and scared. Too happy, so I got scared," said Pauyungi of her initial reaction. "I daydream a lot about what I'm going to do in the new house."

The Aqpiks were successful applicants in an anonymous selection process that began in January. They were chosen based upon their level of need, according to Al Hayward, chair of the group's selection committee.

"It was very difficult, because we had a number of strong candidates," he said.

The non-profit housing initiative will now help them build a three-bedroom home by providing donated funds, materials and labour.

The city donated the land for the home on a residential street just northwest of Four Corners, on Sikituuq Crescent.

The build will take about five weeks, and will be underway by early August.

Once completed, Habitat will sell the Aqpiks the house with no interest, profit or down payment, through two mortgages held by Habitat.

The family will contribute in labour what they lack in finances, by providing at least 500 hours of volunteer work within the community.

"I hope to do anything, as long as we can help," said Pauyungi, who began volunteering her services as a translator on the night of the announcement. "And as soon as school is finished, my son can do a lot of chores."

Pauyungi, who works as an administrative assistant at the Iqaluit Housing Authority, said she had almost given up the hope of having her own home after being rejected for a loan in the past.

"I'm a single parent, we have been struggling since he was born. I never thought I'd get a house...because I can't afford the open market," she said. "It means a lot because we can plan more now, not just on a rental basis, but as a homeowner. We can do more."

Adam, who said he enjoys his Grade 10 shops class at Inuksuk high school, looks forward to swinging a hammer when the build starts.

"I'm so happy," he said. "We finally get to move into our own home."

They have shared the news with some of their family, but Pauyungi said she is still looking forward to telling her father.

"He's a homeowner himself, so he's pushed me to try and get my own home," she said.

Aside from being Habitat's most northern project, Iqaluit is also the smallest community to build a Habitat home to date.

"(It's) attracting a lot of attention," said Ken Spencer, vice-chair of Habitat's Iqaluit affiliate.

The group also announced at the meeting a handful of new corporate and community sponsors and donors.

Grade 9 students Zachary Cousins and Allan Heath of Inuksuk high school presented Habitat with $300 in funds raised mainly from school dances.

Michelle Jacquard, executive director of Skills Canada Nunavut, announced it will be donating a shed.