NANAIMO - The Snuneymuxw First Nation (SFN) and the Province, through BC Housing, are partnering to build and operate new culturally appropriate housing for Snuneymuxw peoples, particularly women and children, Elders and people experiencing homelessness in the community.
“Access to basic and equitable housing has, for centuries, been denied to the Snuneymuxw People due to oppressive colonial policies and legislative acts designed to create substandard housing for Indigenous peoples,” said Mike Wyse, Chief, Snuneymuxw First Nation. “With this step forward, by signing this memorandum of understanding, we begin to deconstruct these systemic and racist approaches, and begin to redesign an approach that unlocks overdue access to housing for Snuneymuxw People and respects our way of life. Together we can build community wellness and community healing. I want to acknowledge the Province of British Columbia for having an open heart and being mindful of a new way of walking forward together, promoting shared prosperity and harmony in our region.”
BC Housing and the SFN have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to create new, affordable housing that may include design and programming features, such as cultural support services and spaces for ceremonies and community gatherings, that facilitate and encourage a sense of tradition, well-being and belonging.
“Our government is committed to exploring new and creative avenues to address the lack of adequate housing options for Indigenous peoples in B.C.,” said Sheila Malcolmson, MLA for Nanaimo, on behalf of David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing. “In 2018, we became the first province in Canada to invest in Indigenous housing on reserve, a federal jurisdiction. Now, we’re partnering with the Snuneymuxw First Nation so that we can deepen our understanding and develop culturally appropriate housing that meets the needs of the community.”
Through the MOU, the two parties will also work together toward a set of mutual goals, including:
- exploring and promoting opportunities to increase First Nations involvement in construction-related training and apprenticeships;
- developing and implementing training programs and support networks for First Nations housing professionals in areas such as development, asset management and ongoing operations;
- collaborating on project planning, development, community forums and engagement activities and including Elders in various discussions so that land, language, culture and people are considered in all development decisions;
- embracing a holistic view of housing that supports and nurtures community while emphasizing environmental sustainability and the natural environment; and
- dealing effectively with homelessness within the SFN territory.
This is the first MOU that BC Housing has entered with a First Nation that is specifically aimed at developing culturally appropriate housing. It is hoped this MOU will be a model for similar agreements with other First Nations in B.C.
Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan –
“Everyone should be able to have access to an affordable home close to their family, culture and tradition. Thank you to the Snuneymuxw First Nation for partnering with us to add another valuable housing resource to the community.”
Leonard Krog, mayor, City of Nanaimo –
“On behalf of Nanaimo City Council, I am very grateful to be a witness to this important MOU between BC Housing and Snuneymuxw First Nation. This MOU is an important step on the path toward ensuring greater housing and health equity for Snuneymuxw women, children, Elders and those struggling with homelessness. We look forward to working with Snuneymuxw First Nation and BC Housing to support implementing this MOU that will increase community wellness by providing more safe and culturally appropriate homes for Snuneymuxw community members who need greater care and consideration.”
- In addition to this agreement, the Province is investing $550 million over 10 years to help build more than 1,750 new homes for Indigenous peoples, on and off reserve in B.C. This is the first significant, dedicated fund to build housing for Indigenous peoples on and off reserve in B.C.
- Work is well underway on the first series of homes selected through this fund – more than 1,100 new affordable homes are complete or underway in 26 communities.
A map showing the location of all announced provincially funded housing projects in B.C. is available online:
To learn about the steps the Province is taking to tackle the housing crisis and deliver affordable homes for British Columbians, visit: https://workingforyou.gov.bc.ca/
Ministry of Attorney General and Responsible for Housing