One in Five First Nations Partners With the First Nations Market Housing Fund

HALIFAX, July 16, 2014 — Three more First Nations have decided to partner with the First Nations Market Housing Fund (the Fund) to help reach their goal of more homes in their communities. The total number of First Nations partnering with the Fund now stands at 137.

“This is a very exciting time for the Fund as we witness more and more First Nations choosing to partner with us.” said John Beaucage, Chair of the Fund. "The hard work of First Nations leadership and staff across the country is paying off and their citizens are reaping the benefits — in the last six months alone more than 20 First Nations have made the decision to work with us. These partnerships are an important step in helping First Nations create housing options that will lead to more vibrant and prosperous communities.”

The First Nations choosing to participate in today's announcement are Aundeck Omni Kaning and Garden River of Ontario, as well as Okanagan Indian Band of British Columbia. These three First Nations are among 59 First Nations approved for the Fund's Credit Enhancement and Capacity Building programs. Together, they have been approved for $641 million dollars of credit backed by the Fund to support an estimated 4,000 loans for individuals or First Nation governments to build or renovate homes on reserve and settlement lands.

“Aundeck Omni Kaning is working hard to bring exciting opportunities to the community for our citizens, including this new one to help us meet our housing goals. We like what the First Nations Market Housing Fund has to offer and we are keen to proceed with implementation.” stated Chief Patsy Corbiere.

Chief Lyle Sayers noted: “Through our partnership with the First Nations Market Housing Fund, Garden River First Nation has strengthened capacity within our Nation. By providing more market-based home-ownership options for our members, Garden River First Nation is fostering sustainable housing that will benefit the generations to come.”

Chief Byron Louis of the Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) added: “Our partnership with the First Nations Market Housing Fund will allow OKIB to become an economically attractive option for our members looking to build or buy a home in our community by providing loan guarantees, while at the same time providing capacity building opportunities for our OKIB administration.”

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 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

Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation
Patsy Corbiere
Chief
705-368-2228

Garden River First Nation
Anne Headrick
Housing Department Supervisor, Economic Resource and Community Development
705-946-6300 ext. 248

Okanagan Indian Band
Joseph Jack
Communications & Grants Coordinator
250-542-4328

Backgrounder

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

Aundeck Omni Kaning

The Ojibway nation of Aundeck Omni Kaning is located on the North Channel of Manitoulin Island in Northern Ontario, and is a member of the United Chiefs & Councils of Mnidoo Mnising. Formerly known as the Ojibways of Sucker Creek, the Nation has reclaimed its Anishinaabe name to what it is now, which translates to “Where the crows nest”.

Aundeck Omni Kaning is actively working to strengthen the cultural identity of its people. Programs are in place to revitalize both language and culture, and to preserve ceremony and knowledge within the Nation.

The total current membership of the Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation is approximately 800 members, with some 380 members residing on the Nation's 897 hectares of land.

Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation has developed economic and employment opportunities for its membership, including the Wabuno Fish Farm and Processors, and Endaa-aang Tourism, creating jobs both within and outside the community. This has resulted in high employment levels among the Aundeck Omni Kaning membership.

Partnering with the First Nations Market Housing Fund will enable the further strengthening of skills, knowledge, and good governance in the community through the Capacity Development program, while at the same time enabling Aundeck Omni Kaning to offer more home ownership and renovation options in the community for members.

Garden River First Nation

The Garden River First Nation #199 is situated along the North Shore of the St. Mary's River in the District of Algoma in Northern Ontario. The City of Sault Ste. Marie lies immediately west and the Village of Echo Bay can be found to the east. Garden River First Nation is also immediately north of the international border between Canada and the United States.

Garden River First Nation's reserve was created in 1850 with the signing of the Robinson-Huron Treaty. The name of the Nation dates back to the time of the fur trade in Canada, when people living in the area were well known for their vegetable growing along the route the voyagers and explorers followed.

Today Garden River First Nation is a thriving community with 1,200 of its 2,700 members living within its 20,703 hectare reserve. Economic development initiatives, including band-owned and private enterprises in the community provide for employment opportunities for its members.

The Garden River First Nation is committed to creating a vibrant and effective housing system, which will contribute to the health and well-being of all community members. Garden River seeks to empower its householders in taking responsibility for their homes, and therefore provides a number of programs and services to support its members, including loans for homeownership and renovations backed by the First Nations Market Housing Fund.

Okanagan Indian Band

The Okanagan Indian Band is located on the shores of the beautiful Okanagan Lake near Vernon, BC. One of the eight Nations who make up the Okanagan Nation Alliance, the Okanagan Indian Band has 6 reserves with a total area of 11,282 hectares, including Duck Lake #7, Harris #3, Okanagan #1, Otter Lake #2, Priest's Valley #6, and Swan Lake #4. Almost half of Okanagan Indian Band's 1,964 band members reside in the community.

The Okanagan people call themselves Sqilxw in their language, which means “Dream in a spiral”. The name reflects the importance Okanagan people place on the concept of unity. Members of the Okanagan Indian Band are also referred to Inkumupulux (Head of the Lake) in reference to both the people and where they have always lived.

A goal of the Okanagan Indian Band is to increase the number of band members residing within the community by making on-reserve housing the most economically attractive housing alternative. The Band encourages owner knowledge and responsibilities in the planning, financing, and management of their own housing projects. There are over 360 housing units in the community, with more developments in progress.