This past November, 10 doghouse flat packs embarked on a journey to the Arctic, bringing warmth and protection to dogs facing harsh winter conditions. This unique initiative, led by Veterinarians Without Borders North America (VWB/VSF), in collaboration with Makerspace, Corothers Home Building Centre, and a local school in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, aimed to address the challenges of limited access to building supplies in remote northern communities.
This area of need for northern communities has been identified by VWB/VSF, underscored by a general scarcity of resources, including lack of building supplies, in the North. To help overcome this challenge, VWB/VSF partnered with Makerspace in Yellowknife to create doghouse kits. These kits, constructed from one sheet of MDF, were designed to be easily transported to Gjoa Haven, where they could be assembled by the community.
A doghouse kit painted and assembled in Gjoa Haven, NU.
This project's roots trace back to remote communities in northern BC, and the team was thrilled to extend the idea to their partner communities. Working closely with the Gjoa Haven community, the project found a fitting collaborator with local Gjoa Haven resident, Sheila, who is a shop teacher. Sheila's students eagerly participated in the initiative, contributing their skills to build and paint the dog houses for community residents to then use.
Despite delays caused by NWT wildfires and clinic postponements, the kits finally arrived in Gjoa Haven at the end of November. The high school served as the assembly point, where Sheila and her students wasted no time in putting the dog houses together.
A Facebook draw, boasting over 50 entries, allocated three dog houses to deserving families and their pets. The remaining dog houses were proudly taken home by the students who dedicated their time and effort to the project.
A dog peering out from a porch in Gjoa Haven.
"This project has such a positive impact on resource access in the Arctic," said Marieke van der Velden, northern Canada program manager. "The program is now actively exploring ways to replicate and sustain this meaningful work."
The success of this heartwarming initiative is a testament to the power of collaboration and community engagement. Special thanks are extended to Makerspace for crafting the flat packs, Corothers Home Building Centre for supplying the dog house materials, and Gjoa Haven school and students for their invaluable partnership. Together, they have made a significant difference in the lives of both dogs and their owners in the Arctic.