Westside construction materials have been used in many Indigenous communities since the 1800s, but a new report says some Indigenous people have long wondered if they could be contributing to the collapse of a Westside house.
The Aboriginal Building Material Research and Education Institute released its annual report on Tuesday, noting the number of Indigenous building materials in the country had declined over the last decade, as more people moved to cities.
The report found that in 2016, about a third of the materials used in the Westside homes and businesses were made from indigenous materials.
The institute, which researches materials in Indigenous communities, says it has been trying to raise awareness about the use of Indigenous materials in building materials.
It is a challenge to find out what’s going on and how the materials are being used, said the institute’s executive director, Chris Jantz.
“I think it’s important that we learn about this because it affects our future generations and the impact it has on their future generations,” he said.
The study says the use and sale of indigenous building materials is a major source of profit for some Indigenous communities.
The building material industry, for example, makes up more than half of the country’s total trade, and is responsible for about 1.5 per cent of the nation’s total economic output, according to the US-based Institute for Energy Research.
The use of these materials is in stark contrast to the construction industry, which has a much higher use of non-Indigenous materials, according the report.
Aboriginal people have traditionally been the builders of their own houses, the report said.
They typically built the house from scratch, and often used locally made, hand-picked materials.
“We believe that, in the context of Aboriginal people building houses, that it is important to ask ourselves what kind of material does this make it?” said Jantz, adding that the report did not go into detail on the material and how many Indigenous people worked on the project.
“What we do know is that they did the building from scratch.
It was their own hand-crafted material, it was their home.”
The study also found that Indigenous people often worked in a collaborative, collective way, rather than one person building and then handing it off to someone else.
“They were very involved in what they were doing,” said Jantson.
The Indigenous building material research institute says the Indigenous people of the Westsides are working in a more collaborative way than other communities.
A group of Aboriginal building material workers was formed in the 1990s, Jantz said.
It began by meeting on a weekly basis and collaborating with other communities to share knowledge.
It expanded to a more community-based organisation, and then to a national organization, he said, adding the institute has seen some progress since the 1990’s.
“Our research shows that Indigenous building is a key driver of innovation and productivity in this industry,” he added.
The survey also showed that in a number of communities, people had found the use or sale of certain types of building materials to be problematic.
Some of the items were used in homes that were not constructed correctly, and others were used to house Indigenous people who were unable to work due to illness or incarceration.
“It’s been really hard for me to know what’s actually in those homes that’s contributing to that,” said Marcela, who asked not to be identified by her last name.
She was working with her husband and four children on a house in Westside, but her husband died after she started to work on it in February 2016.
“When I was working on it, I was thinking, ‘I don’t want to do this,'” she said.
“I didn’t want my kids to be forced to go out and work in that house because of the illness or the mental health issues that they’re facing.
I think that it’s really dangerous and I don’t know what else to do.”
She says she didn’t know that a third-party contractor would be coming into her house.
“My husband’s family had been working on the house for about a decade and it was my husband’s house, and I didn’t realize that a contractor was going to be coming in and taking over the work,” she said, describing the situation as a disaster.
Marcela’s husband died in 2016.
Her son, who is also a contractor, was working as a labourer on the same house, but she is afraid that she will have to go to the police over her brother’s death.
“For them to come in and say, ‘You know what?
You can go into our house and do what you want, because we’ve been through that before,’ it’s very scary,” she added.”
But I just don’t think I’m going to go into that house.”‘
We’re going to get this right’The report says Indigenous people can help build better communities by being more transparent about their use of building