AFN National Housing and Infrastructure Forum – October 30 to November 1, 2018, Vancouver, BC
- The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) hosted its third National Housing and Infrastructure Forum to showcase innovation and further develop the First Nations 10 Year National Housing and Related Infrastructure Strategy.
- The revised Strategy will be presented for discussion at the upcoming AFN Special Chiefs Assembly in Ottawa, December 4 to 6, 2018.
The AFN hosted its third National Housing and Infrastructure Forum and Tradeshow from October 30 to November 1 in Vancouver, British Columbia. More than 500 First Nations leaders, Housing Directors, Community Housing and Infrastructure Councillors and others gathered under the theme “First Nations Housing and Related Infrastructure Strategy Developed by First Nations for First Nations”.
The goal of the Forums is for participants to provide input on the development of the First Nations National Housing and Related Infrastructure Strategy, a strategy aimed at ensuring that all First Nations members living in or away from their First Nations have access to housing that suits their needs.
AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde delivered remarks on the first day of the Forum, encouraging participants to find effective First Nations-led solutions to housing and infrastructure needs, and refine the 10 Year National Strategy. AFN Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart, portfolio holder for Housing and Infrastructure, welcomed delegates and asked that they share, learn and discuss innovative housing and infrastructure solutions to the First Nations housing crisis.
Forum participants heard a powerful keynote from Ms. Victoria Kingi, a Maori from New Zealand and Director of Papakainga Solutions Limited. She spoke of her work leading innovating housing projects in her homelands. Ms. Kingi and her team designed and launched the only tribal shared equity scheme to enable home ownership for tribal members on Treaty settlement land. She spoke of challenges and solutions in developing affordable housing projects, Treaty settlement housing and commercial property development strategies on both Maori and general land.
Presentations continued in the afternoon with an update on the work of the AFN Chiefs Committee on Housing and Infrastructure, and presentations by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation on Canada’s National Housing Strategy, and Employment and Social Development Canada on Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy.
Day Two of the Forum featured some innovative approaches to housing. Youthbuild International showcased its programs in Winnipeg and the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation. Both programs receive support from Indigenous Services Canada and the Manitoba Government. The programs offer academic, vocational and on-the-job training. The program in Winnipeg encourages youth to stay in school and helps develop career plans. The program at Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation is unique in that it provides youth who are not in school employment and training opportunities by building housing in their community. Students obtain an apprenticeship level in carpentry and become “job ready.” Participants heard from Niginan Housing Ventures, a registered charity formed to address the needs of Indigenous people living in Edmonton. Their first development, Ambrose Place, is named after Ambrose Daniels who passed away of pneumonia on the streets of Edmonton. Ambrose Place is a housing complex that provides assisted living and culturally sensitive support services to homeless individuals.
Participants learned about the Shawenim Abinoojii Inc. Specialized Foster Home Program, aimed at addressing the lack of placements for First Nations children in care. Many First Nations children are placed in Winnipeg due to lack of placements in their own First Nations. The Specialized Foster Home Program oversees the operation of 33 First Nations foster homes in eight First Nations near Winnipeg.
Participants at the Forum had the opportunity to attend workshops on topics relating to Governance and Delivery, Funding and Finance, Skills and Capacity, and Urban, Rural and Northern Housing. Day Three culminated in a full plenary discussion on the First Nations National Housing and Related Infrastructure Strategy, and participants provided their feedback and input.
The AFN’s revised First Nations 10 Year National Housing and Related Infrastructure Strategy will be presented for discussion at the upcoming AFN Special Chiefs Assembly in Ottawa, December 4 to 6, 2018.
A report and all presentations from the Forum will be available soon on the AFN website at www.afn.ca. Everyone is encouraged to review the material to find out about innovative programs and approaches to this priority area.