First Nations Market Housing Fund Marks 5th Anniversary With New Partnerships in Quebec

OTTAWA, ON, May 15, 2013 — Five years after opening its doors, the First Nations Market Housing Fund (the Fund) continues to gain momentum. In fact, the Fund, a tool created by the Government of Canada to broaden the range of housing options available to eligible First Nations, marks its 5th year in operation with 100 First Nations partners and the announcement of its first two First Nation partnerships in Quebec.

“Today is a great day for the Fund and for First Nations Communities across the country,” said John Beaucage, Chair of the Fund. “Every First Nation family deserves the opportunity to have a home on their own land, in a strong community, and the Fund is proud to be partnering with so many strong First Nation communities to help make this dream a reality.”

“The Assembly of First Nations is committed to continued advocacy efforts to ensure all First Nations have safe, adequate and affordable housing in their communities to address the continuum of need, including the ability to pursue homeownership. As such, we would like to recognize the efforts of the Fund over the past five years in getting First Nations approved for loan backing and supporting their goals,” said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo.

Launched in May 2008, the Fund supports the creation of market-based housing agreements between First Nations and lenders. The Fund was created with a one-time federal investment of $300 million that can potentially be leveraged into $3 billion in on-reserve housing investments across Canada. Through its partnership with 100 First Nations communities across the country, the Fund now has over $500 million approved in potential loan credit for First Nations citizens to use in applying for housing loans to start on home renovation and construction, as well as for First Nations to provide rental accommodation.

“The First Nations Market Housing Fund has provided us the opportunity to tap into capacity development dollars to further improve the services we provide our community members, “ said Chief Rodney Mark of the Cree Nation of Wemindji — the first community in Quebec to partner with the Fund for housing loans and capacity building. “It also gives our homeowners reduced interest rates to save on mortgage costs. The Cree Nation of Wemindji is looking forward to working with the Fund on our future housing endeavours.”

It is completely voluntary for First Nations to make use of the Fund’s market-based fund — which makes signing 100 First Nation partners all the more exciting. The Fund recognizes the differences amongst First Nation communities and works with them on their own timelines to provide them with the choice and flexibility they need to address their unique housing challenges.

“It is great to be able to access a fund that will contribute to the benefit of Cree Nation of Eastmain as it is doing at this moment, contributing to the upgrading of our managers" said Chief Edward Gilpin of the Cree Nation of Eastmain, another community in Quebec to recently partner with the Fund.

“2012 was the first year First Nations in Quebec chose to work with the Fund,” said Mr. Beaucage. “They have made great progress since choosing to work with the Fund. It is exciting that construction of homes backed by the Fund is already underway.”

About the First Nations Market Housing Fund

The Fund is an innovative initiative established by the Government of Canada, through Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC), to give First Nation members greater access to housing loans on reserve and on settlement lands, where appropriate. The $300 million fund became operational in May 2008.

The Fund helps First Nation communities by:

  • Providing a 10% backstop for housing loans guaranteed by the First Nation;
  • Providing financial leverage to negotiate with lenders that results in lower interest rates; reduced program access fees, risk sharing and administrative arrangements;
  • Strengthening First Nation communities and supporting the idea of self-sufficiency by providing new financial literacy and financial management tools, encouraging good governance and financial transparency and developing capacity with education, information and innovative services.

For more information, please visit the Fund’s website at www.fnmhf.ca.

Media Contacts:

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

Clarence Miniquaken
Cree Nation Of Wemindji
819-978-0264 ext. 215

Stanley Gilpin
Cree Nation of Eastmain
819-977-0211 ext. 327


Backgrounder

Cree Nation of Wemindji, Quebec

Wemindji, from wiimin uchii, meaning “red ochre mountain” in Cree is a First Nation formerly known as Old Factory. It was first established on the little island of Paakumshumwashtikw in 1951, 25 km south of where the community sits today. In 1958 the community was relocated from its original location to the mouth of the Maquatua River on the east coast of James Bay, in northern Quebec. This community is located 1,400 km north of Montreal.

The Cree Nation of Wemindji has exceptional infrastructure, and facilities to meet the needs of the Youth, the Elders, others with special needs, and the animals that share the land with the community. As the Cree Nation of Wemindji continues to develop, build and expand the community, they are careful to reflect their past, present and future generations. The Cree Nation of Wemindji sets aside designated land that helps promote a healthy lifestyle, including spiritual, cultural, social, mental and physical well-being.

The Cree Nation of Wemindji has 376 homes with a population of approximately 1,300 living in the community. The Cree Nation of Wemindji presently has an additional 20 Rent-to-Own homes under construction, which are 95 % complete. The members are planning to take possession of their new homes in June, 2013. The Cree Nation of Wemindji is building homes today to meet the needs of future generations.

Cree Nation of Eastmain

Eastmain is located on the east coast of James Bay, on the south shore of the Eastmain River. The nearest major city is Montreal and they are approximately 1300 kilometers north. The territory of Eastmain is comprised of 489.53 square kilometers. The town has about 8 kilometers of paved roads and is accessible year round by road and via Air Creebec. The community has over 200 homes located in the town.

Eastmain is one of nine communities that make up the Cree Nation; one of four Cree communities that are located on the eastern shore of James Bay. The Cree Nation is the largest group in the Algonkian language family in Canada. Eastmain got its name in 1730 by the local Hudson Bay trading headquarters for the east coast of James Bay and Hudson Bay.

The population is reaching nearly 700 people; the main economic activities in the community are its services sector. This includes a construction company, hotel, private business, gas station and garage. Cree Nation of Eastmain is rich in natural resources and is famous for its trout, whitefish and pike. Cree Nation of Eastmain is also headquarters of the Cree Regional Trappers Association. Other services include it emergency services departments, justice building, local radio station, post office, local schools, government service sectors, sports and recreation complex, local development corporation, a wellness centre, and local medical services. The Cree of Eastmain plans to use the Fund to back loans for homeowners, as well as renters who wish to become owners.