More Housing Options in First Nations Communities Across Canada

OTTAWA, December 11, 2013 — Ten more First Nations have decided to partner with the First Nations Market Housing Fund (the Fund) to help make the dream of home ownership a reality for First Nations people across the country. This brings the total number of First Nations partnering with the Fund to 115 from coast to coast to coast.

These ten First Nations are among 53 First Nations approved for the Fund’s Credit Enhancement program. Together, the 53 have been approved for $610 million dollars of credit backed by the Fund to support 3,700 loans for individuals to build or renovate a home on reserve and settlement lands. In the 10 new communities alone, almost $85 million will be borrowed by individuals.

“Our work is starting to have a real impact in First Nation communities across Canada and these partnerships cap a very successful year for the Fund,” said John Beaucage, Chair of the Fund. “We concluded partnerships with many more new communities, witnessed a large increase in the number of new homes being built and helped strengthen the governance framework of First Nations across the country.”

"We want to help our band members to have housing for their families. We are pro-actively making great things happen through our housing department. With the combination of our governance, house lots, selection process and the self-mortgage program, as well as the support of the First Nations Market Housing Fund, we are creating the reality for our community to meet our housing needs," stated Chief Jonathan Kruger of Penticton Indian Band, one of the new partners announced today.

The new partners with the Fund are:

  • Pic River, Ontario
  • Lac Seul, Ontario
  • Curve Lake,Ontario
  • Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, Ontario
  • Temagami, Ontario
  • Cree First Nation of Waswanipi, Quebec
  • Carcross/Tagish, Yukon
  • Flying Dust, Saskatchewan
  • Adams Lake, British Columbia
  • Penticton, British Columbia

What the Fund’s New Partners are Saying About How the Fund will Support their Goals:

“We are pleased to work with the First Nations Market Housing Fund as this will be able to expand our already successful mortgage portfolio. We anticipate this Fund will bring more economic prosperity to our community and we look forward to a long and healthy relationship.”
— Chief R. Donald Maracle, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte

“Building the capacity of our community begins with building homes. This Fund will not only increase access to private homeownership, creating affordable and safe homes, but also contributes to the development of our local economy. The spin offs of housing projects add to the community, providing employment opportunities and other prospects for growth and expansion. The Cree First Nation of Waswanipi is excited to see this opportunity for First Nation Home owners.”
— Chief Paul Gull, Cree First Nation of Waswanipi

“Adams Lake Indian Band welcomes the opportunity to work with the First Nations Market Housing Fund.  This initiative provides Adams Lake with home ownership opportunities for our members to meet the growing demand for on reserve housing, while allowing us to enhance our administrative and policy capacity to manage a successful housing program.”
Chief Nelson Leon, Adams Lake Indian Band

“The people of Pic River look forward to working with the First Nations Market Housing Fund to develop strategies that will provide an adequate and sustainable housing program. This program will open doors for Pic River community members who wish to build their own homes. It will also provide tools in the long term housing planning process."
— Chief Duncan Michano, Ojibways of Pic River

“We are pleased that Lac Seul First Nation now has more options for housing to offer our membership. The flexibility we see from this new initiative with the First Nations Market Housing Fund is a way to balance many of our outstanding needs in our three communities over the next five years. Through the Fund’s capacity development support we see more than just the improvement of the housing conditions but a positive benefit in the management of all areas of our First Nation”
Chief Clifford Bull, Lac Seul First Nation

"Curve Lake First Nation welcomes the First Nation Housing Fund which will allow for added housing, loans, and mortgage opportunities for its citizens."
— Chief Phyllis Williams, Curve Lake First Nation

“Carcross/Tagish First Nation is honoured to be able to partner with the Fund. It will provide numerous options for its citizens to meet their housing needs. It would instil a sense of pride for our citizens to own their own homes within the settlement lands of Carcross/Tagish First Nation. Owning your own home provides the sense of security now and for the future.”
— Kha Shade Heni (Chief) Danny Cresswell, Carcross/Tagish First Nation

“The Flying Dust First Nation (FDFN) is pleased today with the announcement for approval to partner with the First Nations Market Housing Fund (FNMHF). We look forward to working with the FNMHF as we establish and develop a more effective approach to address our FDFN members’ housing needs. By utilizing the Credit Enhancement, the FDFN will be able to access more borrowing opportunities for our members and provide a more governed approach to home ownership. With the Capacity Development program, the FDFN intends to utilize the program to its full extent. By developing capacity for your lands and your people; you are taking a positive step forward and investing in your most valuable resources and building a solid foundation for the future.”
— Chief Robert Merasty, Flying Dust First Nation

“Our Council is committed to making positive change for our members. With the assistance of the First Nations Market Housing Fund we will give our members the opportunity to improve their quality of life and create pride in home ownership.”
Chief Roxane Ayotte, Temagami First Nation.

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 fund became operational in May 2008.

The federal government made a one-time investment of $300 million in the Fund to get it started. This investment is leveraged for a potential $3 billion to be available for housing investments on reserve and on settlement lands across Canada.

It is completely voluntary for First Nations to make use of the Fund’s market-based fund. 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.

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:

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

Penticton Indian Band
Tabitha Eneas
Housing Administrator
250-493-0048

Cree First Nation of Waswanipi
Allan L. Cooper
Communications Officer
819-753-2587

Ojibways of Pic River
Garland Moses
Capital/Housing Manager
807-229-1749 Ext. 240
Cell: 807-228-1126

Curve Lake
Brian Hamilton
General Manager
705-657-8045

Flying Dust First Nation
Albert Derocher
Director of Housing and Economic Development
306-236-4437

Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte
Dan Brant
Chief Administrative Officer
613-396-3424

Adams Lake
Maryann Yarama
Public Works, Housing and Capital Manager
250-679-8841

Lac Seul
Grace Strang
Finance Comptroller
807-582-3503

Carcross/Tagish
Nelson Lepine
Director of Infrastructure and Finance
867-821-4265

Temagami
Holly Charyna
Executive Director
705-237-8944

Backgrounder

A Snapshot of the First Nations Market Housing Fund’s Latest Partners

Penticton Indian Band

The Penticton Indian Band (PIB) is the first ever First Nation to move from the Fund’s Capacity Development Program to the Credit Enhancement Program. The PIB is located on beautiful bench land in the south-western portion of the Okanagan Valley. The rolling hillsides add to the beauty of the landscape and provide a number of developable bench lands. In addition, the close proximity of the community to Highway 97 and the City of Penticton add to the land value.

The people of PIB are Okanagan, also known as the Syilx speaking people, according to their history they have been in their territory since the beginning of people on this land. The Okanagans (Syilx) people occupied an area which extended over approximately 69,000 square kilometres. The northern area of this territory stretched from the area of Mica Creek, just north of modern day Revelstoke, BC and east to Kootenay Lake. The southern boundary extended to the vicinity of Wilbur, Washington and the western border extended into the Nicola Valley.

Since 2010, with the support of the Fund, PIB has undertaken many initiatives intended to enhance their capacity and to qualify for the Fund’s Credit Enhancement status. These initiatives included: management training, succession planning, staff training and development, audit manual, policy development (housing, finance and governance), community engagement, housing plans, and an organizational review. As a result, the Band has increased the capacity and built confidence in the work that is being done. PIB has greater accountability and transparency as a result, improved communication and relationships, and ultimately increased trust within the community.

As of 2012, the current band population was 1011 of which about half live on reserve. Penticton's current Chief and Council encourage off-reserve members to consider moving back to reserve. The main challenge is the provision of housing to meet the waiting list. A large new subdivision is in the pre-design stage and the community hopes to move this project forward in order to have additional serviced lots available to meet community needs.

There are currently 208 residential units located on the reserve. Housing stock includes single family homes, some duplexes and some row housing. PIB will use the Fund to offer increased homeownership and renovation options to their membership.

Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte

The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte (MBQ) are one of the communities that form the Iroquois confederacy. The Iroquois have a long history of treaty making initially starting in the late 1600’s with peace and friendship treaties with British and Dutch governments. The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte is located near Belleville, Ontario, the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory is the third largest First Nation in Ontario with a current membership of 9,417, of which 2,168 members reside on reserve.

MBQ’s current housing portfolio consists of 1,100 housing units with 358 mortgages, 185 rental units and 900 private home ownership units. As many as seven to 14 families every year are eligible to obtain affordable mortgage financing for on-reserve homeownership through a revolving loan fund which has allocated approximately $100 million in mortgages throughout its existence. The program’s innovative rental housing has set an example of energy efficiency for on-reserve homeowners and is a model for building sustainable and affordable First Nations housing across Canada.

The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, in partnership with the First Nations Market Housing Fund, intends to further expand its housing options for members requiring assistance to build, buy, renovate or rent a home on the Mohawk territory.

The Cree First Nation of Waswanipi

The Cree First Nation of Waswanipi (CFNW) is a self-governing Cree First Nation under the 1975 James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA). The First Nation is located in the Central region of Quebec, approximately 275 km north of Val d’Or and 154 km west of Chibougamau on the banks of the Waswanipi and Chibougamau Rivers. Generally translated, Waswanipi means “Reflection on Water”.

The current day Waswanipi community was formally established under the 1975 JBNQ Agreement. The first houses were built in 1976. Today, Waswanipi is a thriving and developing community of approximately 1,450 people with over 350 housing units. The community has a clear vision of sustainability and prosperity within a global environment with a commitment to remaining a strong and healthy community that preserves the Cree way of life.

Waswanipi is governed under the Cree Naskapi Act which sets out the powers, authorities and structure for local government, including a land regime system that the First Nation follows. Pursuant to the Act, the First Nation government establishes and maintains laws and policies on behalf of the community with all by-laws and policies reviewed and passed by the General Assembly. A management board made up of the various department directors is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the government.

The Cree First Nation of Waswanipi, in partnership with the First Nations Market Housing Fund, intends to maximize market based housing options that would include the purchase of existing homes on CFNW reserve lands, building new homes, renovation of existing homes and refinancing options. As well, the First Nation intends to provide rental properties developed by a CFNW owned corporation.

Adams Lake

Sexqeltqin, also known as the Adams Lake Indian Band (ALIB), is one of the 17 Bands recognized within the Secwepemc territory and is part of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council. ALIB has over 700 members, with more than half living on reserve lands. Hustalen, Sahhaltkum, Squaam, Stequmwhulpa, Switsemalph, Switsemalph, and Toops are the seven reserves that make up ALIB, and extend from the Village of Chase to the District of Salmon Arm in British Columbia. The combined acreage of the seven reserves provides ALIB with approximately 7,271 acres.

ALIB supplies its residents with water, sewer, and power services, and has a number of certified water operators and journeymen employed by the Band. ALIB also operates a Volunteer Fire Department stationed on the Sahhaltkum reserve, providing fire protection services there and to some neighbouring communities.

An ALIB Housing Committee, made up of seven elected band members, is mandated with directing and overseeing the safe and effective delivery and operation of all on-reserve housing. The work of the Housing Committee is guided by approved ALIB Housing policies.

The Housing Department in ALIB is tasked with administering the day to day operations of the housing program such as maintenance, repairs, and leasing. There are approximately 130 housing units in ALIB, with over 60 privately owned homes and 9 Band-owned rental units.

Adams Lake plans to use the backing of the Fund to increase homeownership opportunities for their members, including renovation loans.

Ojibways of Pic River

Pic River is located south of Highway 17 on Lake Superior near Marathon, Ontario, roughly halfway between Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The reserve neighbours Pukaskwa National Park and the community of Heron Bay.

The mouth of the Pic River has been a center of trade and settlement for thousands of years. It was a strategic location in the region's water transportation network because it offered access to northern lands and a canoe route to James Bay.

Ojibways of the Pic River First Nation has a community population of approximately 525 people and a total membership of over 1,000. The First Nation is committed to creating a self-sustainable reserve with employment, education and resources being developed and used within the reserve itself. Pic River has a thriving forestry company, a cable television company and a high speed internet company. There are 167 homes in the community, combining privately owned, rental and band- owned units.

The First Nation has followed a ten year housing plan that has contributed to some very significant achievements including reducing overcrowding conditions and innovative construction solutions for which they have received a housing award. As part of the plan renewal process, Pic River First Nation is anxious to establish a sustainable housing program that will include separating the business of housing from the administration of the First Nation and provide security of home ownership for its membership.

Lac Seul First Nation

Lac Seul First Nation is one of the largest reserves in the Treaty #3 Anishinaabe Territory in Northwest Ontario with a membership of over 3,000 and community population of 830. The reserve is made up of three (3) communities: Kejick Bay, Whitefish Bay and Frenchman’s Head with approximately half of the membership living on reserve and neighboring communities.

In 1929 the reserve was flooded due to the construction of a hydroelectric dam. The flooding caused the area known as Kejick bay to become an island permanently separated from the main land and splitting the community into two parts with Whitefish Bay on the mainland.

There are currently over 300 housing units in the community. The First Nation has successfully operated Ke-Nawind Housing Development Authority for 20 years. Ke-Nawind has its own governing structure and qualified staff separate from the First Nation administration. The authority currently manages 96 rental units under CMHCs s95 program and has been highly effective in rent collection and arrears management.

The First Nation administration currently maintains responsibility for the administration of 189 Band owned housing units and has had good success with 24 home ownership private lender agreements.

The Lac Seul First Nation has been spending considerable time and effort in developing a comprehensive set of governance, administrative and housing policies. The community’s leadership is committed to use the support of the First Nations Market Housing Fund to continue strengthening of its governing system, establishing a land tenure system and expanding home ownership options for its membership. Lac Seul has identified the need for a broad range of housing projects over the next five years. They plan to use the backing of the Fund for three four-plex units in their three separate communities, the building of new rental units and the renovations of current homes as well support individual members for home ownership units within the three communities.

Curve Lake First Nation

Curve Lake First Nation (CLFN) is an Ojibway community located 25 kilometres northwest of Peterborough, Ontario. It has a diverse population of 2,500, which include members and non-members alike residing on territorial lands. There are 1,918 registered members (1,161 off reserve and 764 on reserve).

The territory has a communal land base of 900 hectares, which consists of a mainland peninsula, a large island (Fox Island) and several other smaller islands located throughout the Trent Severn Waterway system.

Members reside in the 500 plus homes located throughout the First Nation, of which some are leased out to non-First Nation citizens. The Nations’ housing portfolio is a combination of homeownership and rental units including a four plex and granny flats. The CLFN plans to utilize the First Nations Market Housing Fund to facilitate more homeownership loans in the community.

Curve Lake has flourished as a successful First Nation. A proud community known for its leadership, and promoting Anishinabe culture, its members include trailblazers like Elsie Knott, the very first woman Chief of Canada elected in 1954, playwright Drew Hayden Taylor, and world renowned artisans like Norman Knott, Alice Williams and David Johnson. Whetung’s Art Gallery, a family run business established in the 1960’s, remains a successful cultural and tourist destination in the community.

Carcross/Tagish First Nation

Carcross/Tagish First Nation (C/TFN) is a self-governing First Nation located approximately 70 km southeast of Whitehorse, Yukon, along the Klondike Highway. Its citizenship is part of the Tlingit people of coastal Alaska and the Tagish from the interior. They follow the Tlingit Clan System, which consists of the Wolf moiety (wolf and killer whale clans) and Crow moiety (beaver, raven, crow and frog clans).

Each clan plays a vital role in the governance of the Nation, appointing clan members to sit on the Executive Council, which is the First Nation’s legislative body. C/TFN has developed its own Constitution and governing policies, and has moved away from the Band Council system under the Indian Act. A management board made up of the various department directors is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the government.

The 2006 Final Agreement provided certainty of C/TFN ownership over 1,561 square kilometres of land, with both surface and subsurface rights to 1,096 square kilometres. An estimated 80 percent of C/TFN's population living within the traditional territory currently own homes on settlement lands. In partnership with the First Nations Market Housing Fund, Carcross/Tagish intends to maximize market based housing options with an opportunity for citizens to renovate existing homes owned. The Nation is also looking to establish a rent-to-own program and is considering residential leasing options for non-C/TFN citizens on settlement lands with restrictions.

Flying Dust First Nation

Flying Dust First Nation is located some 300 kilometers northwest of Saskatoon. It is accessible via Highway 55, a vital access route for northern Saskatchewan communities. Flying Dust is comprised of seven land parcels that cover more than 20 thousand acres in the heart of some of the most fertile prairie farmland.

Most homes and administration offices are located on First Nation bordering the City of Meadow Lake. The current population of Flying Dust is 1,150 with 690 members residing in the community.

In June 2013, citizens overwhelmingly supported a deal that would see the Nation establish its own law making powers over its reserve lands, resources and the environment through the First Nation Land Management Act. Flying Dust will have authority to create its own system for reserve land allotment to individual First Nation citizens and deal with property interests or rights.

As part of its comprehensive community plan, Flying Dust is developing a joint venture of a commercial subdivision within the city limits of Meadow Lake through treaty land entitlement. Flying Dust’s housing program intends to make homeownership possible for its citizens by selling and or transferring band owned units and rentals, utilizing the First Nations Market Housing Fund.

Temagami First Nation

Temagami First Nation is located on Bear Island in the heart of Lake Temagami. It has a very small reserve land base of 3 square kilometers in Northern Ontario. It is located approximately one and a half hours drive north of North Bay and is accessible by boat and Band-owned ferry in summer and ice road in winter depending on weather conditions. The First Nation employs 60 people and has a number of small businesses operating on Bear Island (construction contractors, accommodations, and marina/store). Bear Island is home to 257 permanent residents out of a total membership of over 737.

Temagami’s housing stock consists of Band owned rental homes, rent-to-own homes and privately owned homes. Forty-seven of the 75 units in the community are privately owned. Temagami plans to access the Credit Enhancement facility of the Fund to increase private home ownership as well as provide home renovation loans to those needing repairs and upgrades.

While tourism is the main industry in the region, the First Nation has been active in employing local Band members in the Town of Temagami and other regions (Haileybury and New Liskeard). The First Nation has finalized negotiations on an IBA with a gold mine development in the north end of Lake Temagami, which will provide annual revenues and potential employment for some of its members.