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Posted: February 1, 2019

B.C. partners with local bands to improve housing

Shuswap Indian Band, Tobacco Plains Indian Band and ʔaq̓am Community are working with BC Housing on a new project to improve the quality of on-reserve homes.

Under the three-year agreement, BC Housing commits to help the three bands maintain housing that meets or exceeds industry standards for safety, durability, accessibility, healthy living and energy efficiency.

BC Housing will provide training and education to strengthen expertise within the community to manage their supply of housing over the long term, a Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing media release noted.

Shuswap Band Chief Barb Coté.

The bands will work together to secure third-party capital funding for on-reserve housing renewal and to support culturally appropriate economic, social and environmentally sustainable housing.

The agreement is part of a larger Ktunaxa Shuswap Asset Management Initiative that includes financial support from the Columbia Basin Trust and Indigenous Services Canada.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Shuswap Indian Band to share in this very important initiative with our brothers and sisters of the Ktunaxa Nation,” said Shuswap Band Chief Barbara Cote.

“It has been 30 years since we have had any new housing for our community and have since built two duplexes for our membership. The needs of housing are huge, and this is an exciting time to bring community members home where they can live and work. The importance of caring for our homes is also very important in keeping our community assets protected. A huge thank you to the Province of B.C. and Columbia Basin Trust for their continued support for our communities.”

Chief Joe Pierre Jr.

ʔaq̓am Chief Joe Pierre added: “Housing is such a basic need in everyone’s life and it is something that we have struggled with here in our community. I am very glad to be a part of this memorandum of understanding, and I am very much looking forward to the results. We do have a need for upgrades and renovations to the housing stock that we already have on reserve but more importantly we have a great need for new housing, the last new home built in our community was back in the 90s. Hopefully, with this new initiative, we will start to see some new homes being built.”

Tobacco Plains Chief and Council stated: “The Ktunaxa Shuswap Asset Management Initiative is an exciting opportunity to bring together the skills and resources of our communities and that of BC Housing, Columbia Basin Trust and Indigenous Services Canada, providing increased opportunity and capacity towards our goals of a safe and healthy community and housing.”

“Indigenous peoples face disproportionate challenges when it comes to finding a safe and affordable place to live. We are working closely with our partners to build the homes that Indigenous families, youth, and Elders urgently need, but we must also take care of the homes we already have – whether they are on- or off-reserve. I look forward to working with our Indigenous partners to provide better housing for people living in the Cranbrook area, said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development and Minister Responsible for the Columbia Basin Trust, MLA for Kootenay West added, “I’m pleased that the Columbia Basin Trust is supporting the important work of our Indigenous partners to improve on-reserve housing. Our government knows that building and maintaining healthy homes benefits us all by providing a solid foundation for flourishing children and families across the province.”

“We are very pleased to partner to support the efforts of First Nations communities to provide quality affordable housing. Our funding will help provide training and other tools requested by the communities,” said Johnny Strilaeff, president and CEO, Columbia Basin Trust.

In November 2018, the Province announced approximately $231 million from the Indigenous Housing Fund to deliver the first 1,143 of these new homes for Indigenous peoples. This includes $76 million for 367 units of on-reserve housing and $155 million for 776 units of off-reserve housing.

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