First Nation in Ontario Approved by Fund

OTTAWA, February 12, 2010 — The First Nations Market Housing Fund (the Fund) announced today that Batchewana First Nation has been approved for backing through its Credit Enhancement Program. With the backing of the Fund, Batchewana will be able to negotiate favourable housing loan terms and conditions for their members with several different lenders.

“We are happy that Batchewana has chosen to take the lead in Ontario in working with the Fund. This First Nation currently offers a range of market-based housing options in the community, and we are excited to demonstrate how the Fund can complement and enhance their existing programs,” said John Beaucage, Chair of the First Nations Market Housing Fund.

The Fund was established by the Government of Canada and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to give members of First Nations greater access to housing loans on-reserve and on settlement lands where appropriate. Entering its third year of operations, the $300 million Fund has the capability of leveraging up to $3 billion to help secure financing for new homes on-reserve. The Fund is expected to help secure financing for up to 25,000 new homes over 10 years.

“The First Nations Market Housing Fund is a real indicator in our minds that Canada is serious about improving the quality of life for First Nations people across Canada. We commend Canada’s funding initiative and look forward to working collaboratively fulfilling our peoples housing needs,” said Chief Dean Sayers.

“Across Canada, market-based housing on reserve continues to gain momentum and more First Nations are choosing to work with the Fund to help accomplish their goals,” added Mr. Beaucage. “The need for adequate shelter in our communities is urgent and we need as many tools as possible to finish the job. The Fund can be a powerful lever to get things moving.”

Batchewana, an Ojibway community located adjacent to Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, is the fourth community to be approved for the Fund’s backing. 

Media Contact:

Deborah Taylor
First Nations Market Housing Fund
613-740-9931

Alexandra Syrette
Batchewana First Nation
705-759-0914 Ext. 207

Batchewana Community Backgrounder

The Batchewana First Nation of Ojibways is located on the north-eastern corner of Lake Superior and the St. Mary’s River area, adjacent to the City of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The First Nation has a total population of 2,400, of which approximately 72 per cent live off-reserve.

Batchewana First Nation is comprised of four reserve communities: Rankin Reserve, Goulais Bay Reserve, Obadjiwan Reserve, and Whitefish Island Reserve. The administrative offices are located on Rankin Reserve, which is bordered on three sides by the city of Sault Ste. Marie. Facilities operated by the First Nation include an Administration/Cultural Centre, Health Centre, Family Crisis Shelter, Elders’ Complex, Day Care, Arena, Youth Centre, Police Station, Gas Bar, Confectionary Store and the Batchewana Learning Centre.

Batchewana First Nation’s business operations are comprised of Arena operations, building and equipment rental enterprises, and community operations, including Bingo.  Economic development ventures range from renewable energy initiatives, including wind and solar power generation, to sustainable agriculture initiatives. Leadership has taken a principled approach to development, ensuring economic gain will not supersede the integrity of the environment or its protection.

Batchewana First Nation has a highly-developed housing program which acknowledges that members have differing needs and it attempts to accommodate as many situations as possible. This has led to the creation of multiple options, both market-based and social in nature.

The community intends to use the First Nations Market Housing Fund to make it easier for its members to access housing loans on reserve, to purchase and/or renovate existing homes, and to build new homes.