There is strength in community and family - Tina and Niu's Habitat Story
Tina and Niu are excited to be investing in the future for their three children
Please consider making a donation to Habitat Victoria's latest build projects today. Your support will help more local families build strength, stability and independence through our affordable homeownership program and contribute toward the building of eleven new Habitat homes over the coming year. We hope that all of our new partner families will find support and friendship with their neighbours and be part of building a stronger community.
Tina and Niu have been living in a basement suite for nine years, sharing the work in the garden and looking after the place when their landlords are away. Their landlords knew they were saving for a home of their own and had done everything they could to keep the family’s rent affordable. “We are raising three kids and saving as much as we can, but it felt like it was going to be 100 years before we had a deposit ready at the rate we were going!” shared Tina.
Faced with the difficult choice of continuing to rent indefinitely or moving back to Saskatchewan and away from the life they had built here on the Island, their landlord had another suggestion: “He had volunteered with Habitat and thought we might be a good fit for their homeownership program. We applied and now here we are, on our way to owning a home of our own,” laughs Tina.
Tina grew up on the prairies in her home community of the Keeseekoose First Nation. She felt safe at home growing up in a strong community and as part of a large family. But once she separated from that community, she found herself struggling with her own identity and self-worth, particularly in the public-school system. “Niu has taught me how to value who I am; I have such admiration for the connection he has with his culture and family and seeing him with them gave me a deep appreciation for who he is and just what he has given up to be with us here in Canada,” said Tina. She now works as a facilitator and trainer for the Kairos Blanket Exercise and as an on call Indigenous EA for the school district.
Niu, who works on ground maintenance for the local school district, came to Canada as a volunteer from the Polynesian Island of Samoa. “My mom saw an opportunity for a better life and to serve others so she paid for my flight, gave me a twenty-dollar US bill and sent me to Canada,” smiled Niu. “That’s how I met Tina.” Travelling with Youth with a Mission, Niu came to Canada to share his culture and his traditional dances with Canada’s First People. Tina’s mom, who had met Niu and the group first, thought YWAM would be a good fit for her daughter. A year later Tina joined, and they began to train and volunteer together with the charity. They married in 2004.
Both cultures are rich in community and believe strongly in the value of family. For Tina and Niu, it is so important that their children carry that knowledge with them: “We want our children to have a strong sense of who they are, so they can be leaders in the community and stand on their own. For us, owning our home is about investing in our children’s futures and Habitat is making it possible for us to do that.”
The family currently lives just three minutes from the build site, which allows Niu to regularly help out at the build site as part of the family’s volunteer service. This also means all three children will be able to stay in their local school. Their eldest son is academic and enjoys history, their daughter dances and plays sports, and the youngest is artistic and loves traditional Polynesian designs.
“We have some amazing friends in the area and we are looking forward to making more as we start to build these homes together with the other Habitat families. Our new community starts now!” Tina added.