About Frontiers Foundation

Fontiers Foundation Inc. National Organization

  • To contribute to the relief of poverty by supporting community projects which have enduring significance.
  • To foster understanding, through the sharing of culture and experience between aboriginal peoples and volunteers from around the world.
  • To promote development through partnership with people who know and understand their own needs, without sharing aspiring to change their way of life.

Frontiers Foundation Inc. (Manitoba Division)

  • To build capacity to improve the housing stock in Northern Manitoba by mobilizing volunteers, donors, and communities.
  • To work toward the shared vision of Frontiers Foundation, all levels of government and northern residents to have one house per family housing that is healthy, well constructed, well maintained and energy efficient.
  • To assist communities to develop housing strategies composed of partnerships which build capacity as well as homes using as many local materials as is ecologically or economically practical. (Vision statement composed by participants at Frontiers Foundation Manitoba inter-sectoral organizational Meeting, February 2007)


Frontiers Foundation Inc. National Organization

  • From 1954 to 1957 Rev. Charles Catto was a newly ordained United Church of Canada minister assigned to God’s Lake Narrows, Manitoba. One of Reverend Catto’s first observations was the quality of housing in the community and the effect housing had on all other aspects of life.
  • From 1957 – 1962 Charles and his wife Barbara served as missionaries in Zambia (formerly Northern Rhodesia). Barbara became involved in a YWCA project which built a community centre with international volunteers recruited through the International Work Camp program of the World Council of Churches. The success of this small, community project in Mindolo was a testimony of the Harambee spirit which translates in Swahili as, “Let’s work together.”
  • Upon returning to Canada, Charles and Barbara Catto approached the Canadian Council of Churches for their support in co-sponsoring an international, volunteer work camp in a frontier Canadian community modelled on this successful African project. This Canadian initiative would be called “Operation Beaver”
  • At the invitation from Cree Chief, Adam Mayham of Split Lake, Manitoba, an international volunteer work crew was recruited to build a new Anglican church to replace the old dilapidated one that became the centre for a full range of community activities. It was completed in 1964.
  • During the succeeding three years, similar Beaver projects followed, consisting mainly of churches and community centres.
  • In 1968, Operation Beaver incorporated as Frontiers Foundation, a non-profit registered Canadian Charity with a board of directors of primarily First Nation, Metis and Inuit members. This year also marked the change in focus from community buildings to building safe, warm housing with and for Aboriginal Canadians.
  • Since then Operation Beaver has expanded, adding a Northern Arctic Education Program, and international programs such as community development programs in Haiti and education facility development in Bolivia.

Rev. Charlie Catto with God’s Narrows families in 1955

Operation Beaver’s First Project Building the Anglican Church in Split Lake, 1964

Frontiers Foundation Inc. (Manitoba Division)

  • Negotiations between Frontiers Foundation and the Manitoba government culminated the fall of 2007 with three government departments (Manitoba Housing, Manitoba Aboriginal and Northern Affairs, and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) contributing start-up funding for the development of a Manitoba Division of Frontiers Foundation.
  • Instrumental in this development were their first two staff: Brian Monkman, Project Manager, and Laurel Gardiner, Coordinator.
  • Since that time the Manitoba Division has
    • Developed a Forestry and Framing Department which offers training in the Standing Tree to Standing Home Process. We have offered services and/or training in 16 First Nation communities.
    • Developed and Interiors and Renovations Department which does home repairs for families approved for under various government funding initiatives. To date we have worked on projects in three Northern Affairs Communities in Manitoba

Comments are closed.