$8.8 million set for 45 homes in Ktunaxa ʔamakʔis
Indigenous peoples on-and off-reserve will soon have access to more than 1,100 new affordable homes in 26 communities throughout British Columbia, including 39 homes off reserve in Cranbrook and six on-reserve at Akisqnuk First Nation.
The first set of homes selected through the Building BC: Indigenous Housing Fund includes nearly 780 off-reserve homes and close to 370 homes on-reserve. This makes B.C. the first province in Canada to invest provincial housing funds into on-reserve housing.
“The housing situation facing Indigenous peoples in British Columbia is unacceptable,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “Through these new homes, we are working together with First Nations, the Aboriginal Housing Management Association and Indigenous housing providers to take an important step toward addressing this critical need in every corner of the province.”
A total of $7.8 million is going to Aqanttanam Housing Society for 39 off-reserve homes in Cranbrook and $1 million to Akisqnuk First Nation for six homes near Windermere.
BC Housing will work with Indigenous non-profit housing providers and First Nations to finalize the projects over the next few months. A second proposal call is anticipated for spring 2020.
“Long-term, stable housing is critical for keeping Indigenous families together and their communities thriving. This housing project is exceptional news for Indigenous peoples who have faced extraordinary housing challenges that are out of proportion compared to other Canadians. Our government is committed to work in partnership with the Aboriginal Housing Management Association, Indigenous housing societies and First Nations to make sure more Indigenous peoples have access to housing that meets their needs in communities throughout B.C.,” said Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.
“The housing situation for many B.C. First Nations communities has been crippled by decades of federal government funding policies and models that haven’t kept up with our needs, nor with economic fluctuations. This provincial funding will begin to make a difference, but we still have a long way to go to ensure an adequate supply and good quality housing in our fast-growing communities. We will continue to work with both levels of government to reverse a crisis that has become a monumental challenge,” said Terry Teegee, Regional Chief, British Columbia Assembly of First Nations.
Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, secretary treasurer, Union of BC Indian Chiefs added, “Our right to affordable, sustainable, safe and secure housing as Indigenous peoples is affirmed in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Today’s announcement is a first step to ensuring that the housing crisis in Indigenous communities is addressed. It is unprecedented and most welcome that the Province is taking these actions both on-reserve and off-reserve.”
“One of the most important tenets for First Nations individuals and families is having access to healthy, high-quality environments in which to live. The ability to provide adequate housing to meet community needs is a critical issue that far too many First Nations are struggling with. We commend the Province of B.C. for creating the Indigenous Housing Fund (IHF) and for being the first provincial government to invest provincial housing funds into on-reserve housing. Today’s announcement of the first approved projects under the IHF is a positive reflection of our collective commitment to continue to work together to close the socio-economic gaps faced by our communities,” said Robert Phillips, political executive, First Nations Summit.
Projects were selected through a request for proposals, which was issued on June 18 and closed on Oct. 5.