Constructive Conversations #6: Nicki Ackerman of Saskatchewan’s Avana
Nicki Ackerman never thought she would end up in the world of construction, in fact, before assuming the role of Marketing Manager at the Saskatchewan-based Avana, she worked with troubled youth at the Young Offender Program for the provincial government. However, when her brother and sister-in-law approached Nicki and her husband about joining the company it was an opportunity that they couldn’t say no to. Now seven years later Avana has over 1,000 constructions and has managed to help hundreds of people in need across the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta and Nicki can’t see herself anywhere else.
One of the most distinctive attributes of Avana as Nicki is quick to point out, is their motto “We do what is right, not what is easy.” Unlike most construction firms across Canada, Avana is focused on what they define as a purpose-built affordable home for underserved communities. The female-led and family-owned business is very focused on reaching out to the community and offering them housing that they can afford as a way to rise up and get out of dangerous situations. It is a subject that Nicki is quite passionate about as she speaks openly and knowledgeably about the domestic violence crisis facing Canada right now.
According to Nicki, every night in Canada about 6,000 women and children who are fleeing bad situations are sleeping in shelters, and 300 more are turned away because there isn’t room. Avana works hard to bridge that gap by providing affordable housing and within the reach of single moms just starting out, new students seeking a place to stay, seniors who need to downsize, and immigrants who are starting a new life with nothing in Canada. The company believes the best way to end the cycle of abuse, poverty, etc in Canada is by providing housing that people can afford so they can truly find a pathway to a better life instead of returning to unsafe living conditions out of necessity.
Today Avana has around 9,600 constructions in Edmonton, 190 in Regina, and an additional 314 units under management in Regina, but this isn’t what Nicki is most proud of. Instead, she is most proud of the company’s charitable non-profit, the Avana Foundation which allows them to give back to communities that need help alongside affordable housing. To date, the program has helped supplement the rents of domestic violence who need help getting started and empower them to make positive changes in their life. Through a special partnership with the SOFIA House and the YWCA of Regina Avana has also been able to provide children at the various shelters with Christmas gifts and is looking forward to making a stronger impact in years to come.