SUDBURY -- A new housing project is being built on the Atikameksheng First Nation, just west of Sudbury.

On Tuesday, a traditional blessing ceremony took place to acknowledge and recognize the use of the land.

"Because we displace the animals and all the little crawlies that live in those areas, and they are going to be displaced by the construction, so we need to acknowledge them and to let them know that construction is happening so that they need to find a new home," said elder Julie Ozawagosh.

The six-unit modern housing project is being funded 50/50 by the federal government and the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek band. Chief Craig Nootchtai said it's being designed to higher standards.

"We are trying to build houses that are quality -- high quality, that are going to last a long time," said Nootchtai. "Typically in the past, our funding has only been enough money to build what we used to call matchbox houses. They weren't very well insulated or they weren't designed for our needs."

Should be ready in March 2021

Construction is expected to start soon with completion set for March 2021.

"The insulation in the walls and the ceiling are higher than both the Ontario building code or the national building code," said the lead architect Francis Lapointe.

"Flooring is a higher standard. Instead of going for low standard vinyl flooring, we went to a high standard vinyl flooring. Roofing, we chose, instead of a 15-year shingle, which is more typical, we chose a 25 year shingle."

The federal government is working with the First Nation to make housing improvements with $1.1 million in funding for the project.

Nickel Belt MP Marc Serre said the federal government acknowledges the need for improved housing on First Nations.

"The federal government over the decades has not made this a priority and we see many First Nations struggling with the housing," Serre said. "Atikameksheng has been proactive over the years, but now we need to make sure the federal government is more supportive."

The Atikameksheng Anishnawbek band says right now there are 41 people on their housing wait list.