Five More First Nations Join the Fund

OTTAWA, ON, December 9, 2014 — Five First Nations have joined the growing list of communities who have chosen to partner with the First Nations Market Housing Fund (the Fund), bringing its total number of partnering communities to 164. The five First Nations announcing their participation are Upper Nicola Band, Lower Nicola Indian Band, Cree Nation of Chisasibi,Simpcw First Nation and Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation. All have been approved for the backing of housing loans through the Fund’s Credit Enhancement and Capacity Building program.

“With each and every new partnership, we get one step closer to achieving our overarching goal of making home ownership a real possibility for families living on-reserve in Canada,” said John Beaucage, Chair of the Fund. “As we look forward to 2015, we are very optimistic that the efforts of the Fund and its many partners will continue to empower First Nations and contribute to strong communities able to introduce and sustain market-based housing options.”

Through its partnership with 164 First Nations communities across the country, the Fund now has over $687 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 market rental accommodation.

“Upper Nicola Band is excited to be moving forward with capacity development and the roll out of our market-based home ownership initiative,” said Chief Harvey McLeod. Chief Aaron Sam emphasizes that “the partnership with First Nations Market Housing Fund, is pivotal for encouraging more private home ownership. At the same time that frees resources to attend to the growing housing needs of Lower Nicola.”

“Cree Nation of Chisasibi is proud to partner with the First Nations Market Housing Fund,” said Chief Davey Bobbish. “A partnership that will foster and promote private homeownership, we believe is the way to go to alleviate the housing conditions we face as First Nations all over the country.”

“Simpcw First Nation looks forward to working with the Fund to support our membership with loans towards building their own home and to access renovation loans as well,” said Chief Rita Matthew. “The capacity development access will not only better our internal administration policies but provide extra training to our administration staff.”

"The First Nations Market Housing Fund will provide the opportunity for Nawash to refine its structures and processes to conduct Band business that ensures programs and services are viable, and meet the needs of the community,” said Chief Arlene Chegahno. “We hope to achieve this working with the FNMHF, and welcome the opportunity to do so.”

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 will leverage a potential $3 billion 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 develop and expand market-based housing 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

Upper Nicola Indian Band
Collette Manuel
Band Administrator
250-350-3342

Lower Nicola Indian Band
Helder Ponte
Executive Director
250-378-5157

Cree Nation of Chisasibi
Christopher Napash
Assistant Director General of Operations
819-855-2878 Ext. 358
Cell: 819-855-5827

Simpcw First Nation
Arnold Baptiste
Housing, Membership and Lands
250-672-9995 Ext. 224

Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation
Arlene Chegahno
Chief
519-534-1689

Community Backgrounder

Upper Nicola Band

The Upper Nicola Band (UNB) is one of seven bands that belong to the Syilx (Okanagan) Nation. Existence of UNB Members dates back to the 18th century and the Fish Lake Accord, which established the rights of Chief Pelkamulox and his people (known today as UNB) to occupy what is now the northwestern portion of the Syilx territory. The UNB is also affiliated with the Nicola Tribal Council, which also includes 6 Nlaka’pamux Nation Bands. There are approximately 16 main family groups within the UNB. The traditional language is Nsyilxn. Many community members still carry out traditional activities, particularly fishing and hunting and other food gathering.

The major employer on reserve is the UNB. Many members also earn their livelihood through agriculture and forest related activities. Other members travel to other nearby areas to secure employment. The UNB has created the Upper Nicola Indian Band Corporation, as a first step to separate business enterprises from governance.

The UNB membership is currently approximately 970 with approximately fifty percent of members residing in the community. The UNB housing portfolio consists of approximately 122 housing units. UNB and is partnering with the First Nations Market Housing Fund to help meet the need for new homes and renovations.

Lower Nicola Indian Band

The Lower Nicola Indian Band (LNIB), the Scw’exmx (the People of the Creeks), is one of the communities of the Nle?kepmx Nation, (Interior Salish ) which has lived for thousands of years in the Nicola Valley and Thompson River system in southern British Columbia. Today, many Lower Nicola community members carry out traditional activities, particularly berry and mushroom picking, fishing and hunting, and working to revive the language and the roots of its culture, N’lakapamux cin, alive and well.

The current membership is approximately 1,210 of whom approximately 630 reside in the various reserves of Lower Nicola. There are approximately 244 homes distributed into four smaller communities, of which 123 are rental units. LNIB and the First Nations Market Housing Fund are engaged in a partnership to meet the increasing demand for new housing units. LNIB is currently updating its housing policy and developing additional land for housing, in accordance with its community development plan.

LNIB is also working in partnership with the First Nation Market Housing Fund to back homeowners’ loans, and for LNIB to build more rental units and complete a program of renovations for its aged housing stock. Under this program, LNIB estimates a demand for 10 new homeowner units, 8 new rental units, and 50 renovation loans.

Cree Nation of Chisasibi (CNC)

Formerly the Island community of Fort George, Chisasibi is one of the largest Cree coastal communities situated on the eastern coast of James Bay. The community and about 2,000 residents were relocated to the mainland between the years of 1978 to 1980. During relocation, over 200 houses were physically moved and renovated on the new site. Today, Chisasibi has a registered population of 4,465 members with 94% of the members living on reserve and 884 housing units including over 400 rental units and 100 individual homeowners.

Chisasibi has had an established loan program available to Cree beneficiaries of the JBNQA since 2007 for the purposes of financing or refinancing the purchase, construction or improvement of housing. Homeowner mortgages are combined with a Band Grant Program as an incentive to homeownership. Chisasibi issues a right of superficies for members to obtain the right to occupy First Nation lands which is good for 25 years and can be renewed as well as transferred.

In the past 3 years, Chisasibi has constructed 35 units destined for home ownership. Seven (7) of these units have been sold to the Cree Nation Government with the remaining units to be sold to members of the First Nation.

Chisasibi plans to utilize the Fund for future homeownership, rentals, homeowner renovations and multiplex units and apartments targeted at singles who have the ability to pay.

Members of Chisasibi are primarily employed by the Cree Nation of Chisasibi, Cree School Board and Cree Health Board. Chisasibi is also home to the Cree Regional Hospital and Cree Health Board Head Office which serves James Bay Cree communities. Economic and employment prospects for Chisasibi look favourable as the Chisasibi Business Development Group is actively involved in economic and employment projects and partnerships which will result in increased economic, employment and training opportunities over the next 5 years.

Simpcw First Nation

There are nearly 700 members registered to the Simpcw First Nation (Chu Chua) which is situated in the interior of British Columbia which is a short distance from the District of Barriere. The Simpcw people are a proud culture, with the Secwepemc language still largely spoken among the community. Formerly known as the North Thompson Indian Band, Simpcw is one of the seventeen bands who form the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council.

Simpcw First Nation is a growing community with a positive economic outlook. A large number of Simpcw members work in the Nation’s public service sector. Others are employed in forestry and mining through Simpcw Resources Group, the community’s economic development arm.

There are 102 homes in the community, of which 90% are privately owned; the rest are CMHC mortgage homes and Band rental units. With the full support of its Chief and Council, Simpcw’s housing department has successfully reduced its historical arrears by enacting housing policy changes, including effective collection processes.

Moving forward, Simpcw is working with the First Nations Market Housing Fund to back housing loans for its members to purchase or construct new homes, or renovate existing builds.

Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation

The Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation occupy lands on the eastern shore of the Saugeen (Bruce) Peninsula on Georgian Bay. Its Ojibway name is derived from Chief Nawash, who fought alongside Tecumseh in the historical war of 1812 Neyaashiingmiing Indian Reserve No. 27 (formerly Cape Croker) is considered the main reserve with approximately 750 members residing on the territory out of a total population of 2,500. The community is within 26 kilometres of Wiarton, or 250 kilometres from Toronto. Other Nawash lands include Cape Croker Hunting Ground No. 60B, and the Saugeen and Cape Croker Fishing Island Indian Reserve No. 1, which is shared with Saugeen First Nation.

Following the return of its First Nations veterans who voluntarily enlisted in the Second World War, Nawash established a housing loans fund, which has been accessible ever since to community members for the construction of new homes, renovations, additions, as well as emergency repairs. There are 181 privately owned residences out of 260 housing units in the community.

Working with the First Nations Market Housing Fund, Nawash plans to update and enhance its housing policies and processes through the Capacity Development program, and further access the Credit Enhancement program as a means to meet the growing housing needs of its members by offering renovation and homeownership loans.