Building Homes

First Nations communities create affordable, quality housing Leading-edge efforts mean that members of five First Nations communities in…

3 minute read

First Nations communities create affordable, quality housing

Leading-edge efforts mean that members of five First Nations communities in the Basin will benefit from over 50 new affordable housing units and improvements on over 150 existing ones. The communities have completed or initiated these projects with over $4 million and other in-depth support from the Trust’s First Nations Housing Sustainability Initiative.

The $5.5-million initiative helps First Nations communities build new affordable housing units, from planning to construction. It funds energy retrofits and health and safety repairs on existing units. It also helps the communities manage their affordable housing assets, particularly through the First Nations Asset Management Initiative. This is a partnership between several of the communities, supported by the Trust, BC Housing and Indigenous Services Canada—the first of its kind in the country.

Here’s a glimpse at some recent projects.

ʔaq̓am (near Cranbrook)

The community of ʔaq̓am assessed and did energy audits on its 61 existing units. It then demolished two unsafe homes and replaced them with new ones. It has since completed upgrades on one unit, with many more improvements on others to come, from siding and roofing, to insulation, heating, ventilation and plumbing.

“We want to really empower community members to have nice, healthy housing, and also to continue to maintain that healthy housing going forward from generation to generation.”

Michelle Shortridge, Director, Operations and Community Services, ʔaq̓am

Kenpesq’t (near Invermere)

Kenpesq’t—also known as Shuswap Band— is building duplexes that will provide eight one-bedroom, 700-square-foot homes for up to 12 people. These add to the four homes the community constructed in 2018, along with the five it renovated with features like new kitchens, new bathroom flooring and fresh paint.

“The members really appreciate and take care of all the new and improved homes.”

Dolores Nicholas, Social Development/Housing Manager, Kenpesq’t.

Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it or Tobacco Plains Indian Band (near Grasmere)

The community of Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’itbuilt 11 units of various sizes. These are located in its main village area, close to health care and social services—especially important for the tenants of the two accessible units. The units are also energy-efficient, meeting the requirements of BC Energy Step Code 4.

“Older housing is an issue for many First Nations across Canada. So this is huge.”

Heidi Gravelle, Chief, Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it

Yaqan NuɁkiy (near Creston)

The community of Yaqan NuɁkiy assessed its 45 units and is renovating them to meet health and safety requirements and improve energy efficiency. It also plans to build six new homes. The first two are 600-square-foot homes that will fit a maximum of two people each and can accommodate various mobility levels.

“We need more affordable, quality housing that is focused on a higher standard of energy efficiency so homes are nice and warm and there is something left over after the power bills have been paid.”

Debbie Edge-Partington, Housing Coordinator, Yaqan NuɁkiy

First Nations Housing Sustainability Initiative

The Trust’s First Nations Housing Sustainability Initiative supports First Nations communities in the Basin with enhancing and increasing their local affordable housing.

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