Yorkton This Week: The Muskrat Hut

For First Nations communities in northern Canada and other remote regions, access to safe and clean water, toilets, and food preparation areas present a serious challenge to communal gatherings.

For Elders, women, youth, and gender-diverse community members, this often means they simply do not participate in community events. And chemical porta-potties and rental shower units can be expensive, environmentally hazardous, and unavailable in northern regions.Members of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation community in Manitoba, as well as University of Saskatchewan education professor Alex Wilson and her team, want to solve this accessibility problem by relying on Indigenous knowledge and resources. They are addressing the pervasive issue of the Indigenous housing crisis by creating a solution from within the Indigenous community, building what they have aptly named a Muskrat Hut.

Also known as Wachusko weesti, the Muskrat Hut project aims to design a sustainable, locally sourced four-season prototype unit that comprises a composting toilet, shower/sauna, heat source, energy source (solar and wind), and a kitchen area.

How did the Muskrat Hut get its name?

“Canadians might be more familiar with the beaver as the hardworking symbol of Canada,” Wilson explained. “The muskrat is its lesser-known but equally persistent, quietly hard-working cousin.”

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