Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples begins with acknowledging systemic and institutional oppression, addressing ongoing impacts of historical wrongs, and ending racism. It requires a deep reckoning with the truth, commitment to justice, and ongoing efforts to build trusting and good relationships towards real change. We all need to reverse the systemic inequalities and discrimination facing Indigenous peoples. These inequalities are the lasting effects of Canadian assimilation policies, marginalizing systems and residential schools.
BC Housing commits to eliminating racist and discriminatory policies, processes and approaches. We commit to undertaking our own reconciliation journey and supporting our employees on theirs. We recognize that it is an ongoing process with much to be learned along the way.
First step – Reconciliation: Moving Forward Together report
BC Housing engaged Two Worlds Consulting (TWC) to guide our development of a Reconciliation Strategy. TWC connected with Indigenous partners that we currently work with to learn what we are doing well, and where we must improve in our commitment to Reconciliation.
- Indigenous partners (Indigenous Housing Providers and organizations, Indigenous non-housing organizations and First Nations)
- BC Housing employees who are Indigenous
- BC Housing board members
- BC Housing employees who are Non-Indigenous
From these interviews and a review of our programs, policies and practices, TWC created the What We Heard Report – Reconciliation: Moving Forward Together.
This report offers an understanding of BC Housing’s relationships with Indigenous Nations, organizations and individuals. It allows us to reflect on our successes and failures. It supports us to move forward in a genuine way that honours the calls to action of TRC, UNDRIP and DRIPA. It includes concrete recommendations on actions that BC Housing can consider to advance our work on Reconciliation.
Actioning report recommendations
BC Housing is now developing an action plan based on the findings that arose in the report.
Several early findings from TWC’s consultation were shared with BC Housing and implemented immediately. These actions include:
- Providing additional training for staff and board members
- Creating a framework for land and territorial acknowledgements
- Creation of the Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (OEDIB), elevating this to a strategic role in the organization. Reconciliation remains a distinct strategic area within Executive Office, with many overlapping EDIB and anti-racism goals.
- A new Reconciliation Strategy intranet site to staff, including a variety of resources
1. Conduct an equity audit that will review all policies, procedures and processes. This will include:
- A gap analysis identifying missing policies
- Reviewing staff and board recruitment and retention from an EDIB lens
- Reviewing or implementing policies to establish zero tolerance for discriminatory behaviours
- Updating policies related to diversity and inclusion
2. Continue to roll out and make mandatory the Working Effectively with Indigenous Peoples training for all staff and board members.
1. Collaborate with Indigenous communities, organizations, and those impacted by BC Housing’s mandate as we continue to build a Reconciliation Strategy. Ensure engagement allows room for differences in perspectives, priorities, and needs.
2. Adapt program requirements, design standards, and work pace to be culturally inclusive of Indigenous partners.
3. Continue to offer the Indigenous Housing Fund. Collaborate with Indigenous Nations, communities and organizations on program requirements to ensure it meets their communities’ needs.
4. Analyze BC Housing’s colonial history, including past failures.
Some recommendations fall beyond the scope of BC Housing’s authority. Such recommendations require further engagement beyond BC Housing with various levels of government.
BC Housing is pleased with the Reconciliation: Moving Forward Together report, which is the first phase of developing a Reconciliation Strategy. The findings in the report and actions resulting from it will help us create a meaningful strategy for enacting change.
Development of a Reconciliation Strategy
In 2019, BC Housing initiated formal work to develop a Reconciliation Strategy. Efforts are underway towards this Service Plan goal and we realize that this is a first step towards an important journey for our organization.
The development of a Reconciliation Strategy will create a framework for how we operate and make decisions. The work to create a strategy is being done in collaboration with Indigenous housing and community partners.
The strategy is part of BC Housing’s commitment to adopt and put in place policies and practices based on:
- United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)
- Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) final report
- B.C. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA)
- Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
BC Housing has been working with Indigenous peoples for more than fifty years. Our work spans the province and takes place on the unceded traditional territories and ancestral homelands of hundreds of Indigenous Peoples and Nations.
We recognize that Indigenous peoples' history and connection to these lands are jeopardized as a result of colonization. We must break down the systemic and institutionalized racism within our province.
As a funder, employer, owner and operator of affordable housing programs, BC Housing touches the lives of many Indigenous peoples. Our 2020/2023 Service Plan includes the goal to build “Strong Indigenous partnerships and relationships based on principles of Reconciliation”. BC Housing works with Indigenous housing partners to increase self-reliance in the sector and are partnering with First Nations communities to address critical housing needs.
We have been working to address the over-representation of Indigenous peoples within the homeless population, ensuring equitable access to safe and supportive housing which is key to addressing violence against Indigenous women who are at greater risk than non-Indigenous women. Work from previous years is described in our Annual Reports.