10 years of building belonging through homeownership: Manitoba Tipi Mitawa

As a single mom of two young boys, my dream of owning a home was to give my kids a stable and safe place where they could grow and make lifelong memories.”

— Christy, Manitoba Tipi Mitawa homeowner.

An important part of building community is ensuring that children have a safe place to call home, and a community in which to thrive. Attending the same schools throughout their childhood, making life-long friendships and building relationships in their communities creates a sense of stability and belonging. This gives children the best opportunity to develop to their fullest potential.

Homeownership makes this possible, while also creating financial and social stability for the family. Seeing a great need in the community, several organizations came together to develop an initiative based on these foundations and with a purpose to make homeownership a possibility for First Nations families in our communities.

Launching Manitoba Tipi Mitawa

Ten years ago, the Manitoba Real Estate Association (MREA) had a vision to develop a program to break the cycle of poverty while realizing the beneficial impacts of homeownership for children, families, and our communities. In partnership with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, and with funding from the Province of Manitoba, MREA launched Manitoba Tipi Mitawa (MTM).

Understanding the importance of financial advice and planning for MTM families, MREA partnered with Assiniboine Credit Union to not only provide the mortgages for families, but to also build long-term relationships with them while supporting their journey toward their financial future goals.

Harry DeLeeuw, Co-chair of MTM, was there from the beginning. “What started as an aspirational dream has become a successful reality, creating a real impact in the lives of dozens of families here in our communities. Ten years later, we know we’ve accomplished what we set out to do, but we also realize the opportunity to do so much more is very real and needed.”

Working together

This made-in-Manitoba solution addresses the affordable housing and homeownership challenges First Nations families face. The program was motivated in part by the realtors’ intimate knowledge of the benefits of homeownership and the stability that comes along with it, and ACU’s commitment to affordable housing, engaging in reconciliation, and financial empowerment in our communities.

While launched before the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s report including the Calls to Action (which calls for the business community in our country to engage in creating economic opportunities for Indigenous individuals and families), the MTM program is a wonderful example of local community partnerships working together.

10 years of success

MTM recently celebrated 10 years of making a difference in the lives of First Nations families and our communities, highlighting the beneficial impact.

During this decade of MTM, 25 First Nations families have bought their first home and are experiencing the stability that comes along with living and thriving in one community. In these homes are 42 children and grandchildren that are growing up with that stability that comes through attending the same school and creating strong social circles. These families are also strengthening their financial resilience as they build up the equity that comes with mortgage payments and appreciation in the value of their home.

Given that our families are first-time buyers and very new to the homeownership process, the care and patience exhibited by the financial advisors at ACU was an integral part to the success of our program,” DeLeeuw continued. “We are mutually proud that all our families continue to successfully manage their mortgage obligations, and that is a testament to our families, our application process, and the skill and supportive experience offered by ACU.”

A program with a strong foundation

In addition to providing assistance with the down payment required to purchase a home, MTM ensures families gain access to financial literacy education and home maintenance training through a partnership with SEED Winnipeg Inc.

SEED Winnipeg has developed curriculum and expertise in this area through years of successfully delivering their Inner City Homebuyer Program. This is another example of how MREA has worked on leveraging the skills, experience and expertise of various partners like ACU and SEED. Through these partnerships, they have nurtured supportive environments and experiences for MTM families to find long-term success. At the same time, this has demonstrated the power of government, public and private sectors working together to provide Manitobans with opportunities and a pathway to stability through homeownership.

Also vital to the success of the program has been the excellent financial literacy and money management sessions offered by SEED Winnipeg as an integral component of the Manitoba Tipi Mitawa program,” DeLeeuw stated. “Applicants completing the SEED program come away with financial skills that will last them a lifetime and set them on the road to success.”

Over the past decade, for Harry DeLeeuw and MTM, these partnerships have helped set a solid foundation upon which to build. “We are very grateful for Assiniboine Credit Union’s continued support over the past 10 years. ACU partnered with Manitoba Tipi Mitawa from the start of the program in 2009 and their support for both the program and our families has never wavered,” he explained.

“SEED has also been a continued supporter of the Manitoba Tipi Mitawa program since 2009, tailoring programs to fit the needs of our Manitoba Tipi Mitawa families. We look forward to much future success due of the continuing support of ACU and SEED.”

Read: Growing a financial community in Winnipeg’s North End

Future forward: Growing the MTM program

For MTM, that forward-looking focus will continue to foster homeownership goals in the community.

There is no greater feeling than that of helping our members realize their dream of homeownership. I’m proud to work for an organization where the staff truly live ACU’s values by supporting incredible programs such as MTM,” said Lise Tarasenco, Branch Manager at ACU’s Main at York Branch where MTM is delivered.

The only limit to growing the MTM program and the impact it creates for First Nations families and our communities is the funding required to make it work. While the Province of Manitoba has provided the funds required for MTM over the years, the organization also took this 10-year celebration to announce the successful acquisition of charitable status for the MTM program. With this status, you can now make donations in support of First Nations families gaining stability through homeownership. (Donations can be made at the MTM page on CanadaHelps.)

Testimonials from MTM homeowners

For the members of MTM who are now living in homes, the program has been life-changing. A range of emotions is expressed, but gratitude and the joy of homeownership is clearly a common thread — making the past 10 years of MTM an undisputed success.

Homeownership seemed like an unattainable dream and one I would never experience, however the Tipi Mitawa Program gave me this incredible opportunity to buy my first home. Being a homeowner is something I am doing with success and a tremendous sense of accomplishment and pride.” — Renee

“When you come from a background where your whole family are renters and no one knows the process of buying property, the unknown can be daunting. Having that extra support and encouragement through the buying process is invaluable.” – Shasity

“The MTM program has provided a foundation for my family and I to grow and build memories together.” – Kayla

“There are really no words to express how you feel exactly when you start to own a home because you need time to let it sink in. It is mine – and I can take pride and confidence in that.” – Sandra

“I am very happy with being a homeowner. I’m very thankful for what the program did for me and my family.” – Jeremy

“Homeownership has allowed me to have security, freedom, responsibility, resourcefulness and has enable me to live a healthier and happier lifestyle.” – Jennifer

“I never expected to feel so much freedom, independence and security before.” – Renee

“In my family, I am the first to purchase a house and this feels great.” – Jason

“Becoming a homeowner has been one of the greatest accomplishments I have ever made. It has given me the confidence and a new experience that I continue to learn on a daily basis.” – Shelley

“Every morning when I wake up, I think to myself, ‘I own this.’ It’s been a whirlwind of feelings, all very empowering.” – Tammy

To learn more about supporting the MTM program, visit the Manitoba Tipi Mitawa page on CanadaHelps.

About Bill Dinsdale

Bill Dinsdale is a Senior Community Account Manager at ACU. Bill's role in the ACU Community Financial Centre (CFC) is to assist non-profits, co-operatives, and social enterprises through financing and account management, specializing in non-profit housing.

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