Onion Lake Cree Nation Approved by Fund

OTTAWA, February 22, 2010 — The First Nations Market Housing Fund (the Fund) announced today that Onion Lake Cree Nation (OLCN) has been approved for backing through its Credit Enhancement Program. With the backing of the Fund, the OLCN will be able to attract private financing, with favourable terms and conditions, for the housing loans of their members on reserve.

“The leadership of OLCN has made a major commitment to build homes and upgrade the infrastructure in their community. A key component of this direction is offering new housing options to their members and forging partnerships with private lenders,” said Ruth Williams, Vice-Chair of the Fund. “We are excited they have chosen to use the Fund to help meet their community’s goals.”

The Fund was established by the Government of Canada and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) 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.

“Our government is committed to ensuring all Canadians have the opportunity to own a home,” said the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and Minister responsible for CMHC. “This initiative is an important step to help First Nation people on reserve become self-sufficient."

‘This is a proud and empowering moment for our people and community,” stated Chief Wallace Fox. “We have been advocating for many years about our nation’s ability to become self-reliant and govern on accountability and transparency in our opportunities to become self-sufficient.”

‘The time has come to put housing options in place that give youth the opportunities their parents did not always have. This is an important part of empowering our future generations to continue making progress that honours the past,” added Ms. Williams.

Chief Fox noted that: “Housing is always a top priority, along with related employment and training, to become a proud work-force and enable our citizens to contribute within our local and mainstream economy. On behalf of my Elders, leadership, staff and people, we stand proud to be in a true partnership with the First Nations Market Housing Fund.” 

Onion Lake, a Cree community located north of Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, is the fifth community in Canada, and the second in Saskatchewan, to be approved for the Fund’s backing. The first community approved in Saskatchewan was Lac La Ronge Indian Band.

Media Contact:

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

Winston Walkingbear
Onion Lake Cree Nation
306-344-4200 or 306-845-9151

Onion Lake Cree Nation Community Backgrounder

Onion Lake Cree Nation (OLCN) straddles the border between Saskatchewan and Alberta in Treaty 6 territory, 50 kilometers north of Lloydminster, Saskatchewan. The total population of the Cree Nation is 4,780 citizens.

The community is located on fertile, rolling hills that are prime for agricultural use, and beneath the surface there is proven production from oil and gas fields. As a result, the community has entered into several long-term economic sector partnerships to take sustainable development advantage of these natural resources. The process is guided by community and strong governance mechanisms based on Cree Worldview.

Chief Wallace Fox recently announced a major commitment to improve and support housing and infrastructure for OLCN members. The First Nation recently completed a 58-unit project and is currently constructing 41 on-reserve housing units, renovating a school, and upgrading water and sewer infrastructure. These community capital projects are being financed through a combination of private and public sources, which is considered a best practice for First Nation development.

In addition to partnering with the Fund, Onion Lake has made the commitment to assist members in home renovations and mortgaging homes. As well, OLCN is assisting members wishing to become homeowners by making a capital contribution toward establishing a Home Mortgage Trust, and by granting a portion of the down payment for members who qualify for loans, through a private lender program.