Three Indigenous bands in the East Kootenay are working with BC Housing to improve the quality of on-reserve homes.
The Shuswap Indian Band, Tobacco Plains Indian Band and the ʔaq̓am Community will receive help from the housing crown corporation to maintain housing that meets industry standards for safety, durability, accessibility, healthy living and energy efficiency.
“Housing is such a basic need in everyone’s life and it is something that we have struggled with here in our community,” said Nasuʔkin (Chief) Joe Pierre, with the ʔaq̓am 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.”
BC Housing will also provide training and education to strenthen expertise within each of the communities to manage housing supply. The three bands will also work together to identify third-party capital funding for new on-reserve housing.
The partnership is part of a three-year agreement through the Ktunaxa Shuswap Asset Management Initiative that includes funding 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 Barbara Cote, the chief of the Shuswap Indian Band. “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.”
A statement from the Tobacco Plains Nasuʔkin (Chief) Mary Mahseelah and Council welcomed the news.
“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.”
The provincial government’s Building BC: Indigenous Housing Fund is set to provide $550 million over the next 10 years to build 1,750 units of on- and off-reserve Indigenous social housing.
“Indigenous peoples face disproportionate challenges when it comes to finding a safe and affordable place to live,” said Selina Robinson, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “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.”