New Council Formed to Create a First Nations Housing and Infrastructure Body in BC
A new First Nations Housing & Infrastructure Council of British Columbia (HIC) has been established to create a First Nations-controlled Housing & Infrastructure Authority (Authority) in British Columbia. Once established, the Authority will transfer responsibility for First Nations housing and infrastructure program delivery and associated housing services in BC.
Creation of an Authority is a step towards indigenous self-government and the goals of First Nations and government for housing reform under the Assembly of First Nations’ National Indigenous Housing Strategy and the Government of Canada’s directive to transfer its delivery of First Nations services to First Nations control.
HIC is an independent entity mandated by BC First Nations leadership to work in partnership with the BC First Nations housing community to build the authority. Its role is to be an independent facilitator working with all players to build the authority. This initiative is part of the larger culture shift in Canada that is working to decolonize the relationship between Canada and indigenous peoples of Canada and to achieve genuine indigenous self-determination and self-governance.
Extensive engagement, consultation and collaboration with the housing community is essential to achieving success. Being community driven is fundamental to the successful creation of the delivery model. To ensure the delivery model meets the needs of First Nations, HIC will be engaging government, First Nations, associations, agencies, organizations, related service providers and any others who can contribute towards its mandate.
Outreach sessions will be held across the province to gain local perspectives. There are no pre-determined outcomes on the final delivery model. Details such as organizational structure, programs, services, roles and responsibilities (provincial, regional, communities) and supporting providers will be determined through the engagement process. All input is valuable during the development stage and will be used by the Council to develop delivery model options.
At its core, the delivery model will reflect the needs of First Nations people, incorporate cultural sensitivities, address regional and geographical considerations and address capacity needs and other challenges. This new delivery model will also aim to bring efficiencies, ensure collaboration between administration, service providers and communities, and support those responsible for the coordination, delivery and management of housing and infrastructure. The model will be designed to enable First Nations to make their own housing decisions, facilitate financial mechanisms to deliver housing on reserves, and ensure equal access to housing.
Using the knowledge and information gathered, HIC will develop options for housing and infrastructure delivery models and propose one for adoption by the BC First Nations, the federal government and possibly the BC Government. Upon approval, the Council will formalize the Authority (establish agreements, protocols, legislation and transition plans), create the delivery agent (establish an office(s), management, governance, policies and procedures) and initiate operations (transfer delivery authorities, providing services and programs).
An Experienced Team
HIC brings together First Nations leaders and housing professionals with extensive experience in the field. They include political and technical advisors with expertise and experience creating and managing housing policy, infrastructure, large-scale institutions, intergovernmental and policy framework in governance, finance and health. HIC will be managed by an executive director and engage additional experts as required.
Chief Dan George (Chair): Burns Lake Band
Chief Mark Point (Vice-chair): Skowkale Band, Stó:lō Nation
Kerry Black: Assistant Professor, School of Engineering, University of British Columbia
Jason Calla: Principal, Temixw Planning
Peter Mitchell: Kebaowek First Nation, One Source Reallty, FAB Consulting Group
Jim Munroe: President, Maiyoo Keyoh Society, Technical Rep, Chiefs Committee on Housing & Infrastructure
Sylvia Olsen: Faculty, Vancouver Island University
Cheyanne Watkinson: Youth Representative
Garry Merkel: (Executive Director)
As a step in the path towards indigenous self-government, to manage the process to design and implement a First Nation’s controlled Housing & Infrastructure Authority (“Authority”) in British Columbia that will:
a) Assume authority and control for First Nations housing & infrastructure program delivery in British Columbia; and
b) Deliver associated housing and infrastructure services.