First Nations Across Canada Embrace Market Housing

MONTREAL, July 7, 2015 — Ten more First Nations have decided to partner with the First Nations Market Housing Fund (the Fund) to help realize their goal of more and better homes in their communities. The total number of First Nations partnering with the Fund now stands at 187.

“Market housing and the work of the Fund are an important part of the mix of solutions necessary to build homes, strengthen First Nations communities and empower individuals to achieve their dreams,” said John Beaucage, Chair of the Trustees. “Nearly one-third of all First Nations across Canada have made the choice to establish the systems to make market housing a reality in their communities. An impressive number, especially given the amount of work that goes into creating and sustaining a housing system. For many of our partners this is a new approach.”

The 10 First Nations in today’s announcement have all been approved for both the Fund’s Capacity Building and Credit Enhancement programs. In total, 84 First Nations are approved for the Fund’s Credit Enhancement program. These First Nations have been approved for $775 million dollars of credit backed by the Fund to support an estimated 5,000 loans for individuals to build or renovate a home on reserve, settlement lands or lands set aside.

In announcing the 10 new partnerships, Mr. Beaucage paid tribute to the first two First Nations from Manitoba that have chosen to work with the Fund in setting up a loan program in their communities. He also noted the diversity of the growing number of First Nations from British Columbia and Ontario who are offering market options in their communities. “Market-housing can work anywhere in this country where there is an economy and a willingness to work at it,” said the Chair. 

The communities choosing to participate in today’s announcement are:

  • Long Plain First Nation
  • Skwah First Nation
  • Fisher River Cree Nation
  • Alderville First Nation
  • Lake Cowichan First Nation
  • Leq’á:mélFirst Nation
  • Halalt First Nation
  • Penelakut Tribe
  • Nooaitch Indian Band
  • Skeetchestn Indian Band

What the Fund’s New Partners are Saying:

“Long Plain First Nation is very fortunate to introduce a new and exciting housing program through our partnership with the First Nations Market Housing Fund to meet the growing demands for housing in our community. We truly believe this will set a new standard in providing real home ownership opportunities for our citizens. We welcome this new housing initiative to Long Plain.”
— Chief Dennis Meeches, Long Plain First Nation

“We are so happy to be a part of the Fund. We have many members who have wanted to come home for the longest time, including in my own family, and the Fund will help provide opportunities for these members that did not exist before. We look forward to working closely with the Fund to grow our capacity to bring our Nation into a more economically prosperous era.”
— Chief Robert Coombes, Skwah First Nation

“Many of our community members are considering options for private home ownership and this new partnership with the Fund will give them alternatives to the programs previously available. We are also looking forward to having access to capacity development initiatives that will benefit our staff and community.”
— Chief David Crate, Fisher River Cree Nation

“Entering into the future for housing, the First Nations Market Housing Fund allows our members to plan ahead on family, and a home meeting their needs.”
— Chief James Marsden, Alderville First Nation

“The Lake Cowichan First Nation is excited to realize the opportunities that await our membership through the partnership with the First Nations Market Housing Fund. We feel that this will remove some of the barriers that affect our membership in obtaining home ownership.”
— Chief Cyril Livingstone, Lake Cowichan First Nation

Leq’á:mél First Nation is proud of the opportunity to work with First Nations Market Housing Fund. We saw the need for innovative housing for our citizens and their need for renovating existing homes in the community. Our approach will be guided by our current housing policy that will be updated with support from the Fund and used to educate our citizens on recent changes with a view to building more homes with the Fund’s backing.”
— Chief Alice Thompson, Leq’á:mél First Nation

“Working with the First Nations Market Housing Fund is very timely for Halalt. We have been visiting ways of improving how housing is managed in our community. Our leadership and community members will benefit from our involvement with the program. Our governance in the area will improve through new and upgraded policy and procedure creation. And, our members will be brought up to date and informed about how the program works and will increase their opportunity to obtain housing. Overall, our governance and community capacity in regard to housing will be improved.”
— Chief James R. Thomas, Halalt First Nation

The First Nations Market Housing Fund Credit Enhancement has provided a much needed alternative to housing for the Penelakut Tribe. The opportunity for private homeownership frees up low income social housing for band members that need it. It is an exciting time for Penelakut Tribe to offer construction and/or renovation opportunities to our band members. The Fund will expand our housing base and provide sustainability to our existing stock.”
— Chief Earl Jack, Penelakut Tribe

“The Nooaitch Indian Band has a high demand for new economical housing as well as a high necessity for renovations to many existing homes that are well below health and safety codes. This was indicated in our Comprehensive Community Plan in 2012. We welcome the opportunity to work with the First Nations Market Housing Fund in addressing this as one of our high priorities. We look forward to working with the Fund as it provides options to fulfill the present housing demands to build or renovate homes as well as utilize the other services and training opportunities this program offers. We look forward to establishing and maintaining an excellent working relationship, and I believe this will assist with our goal for a healthier living environment on many levels for our band membership in our community.”
— Chief Marcel Shackelly, Nooaitch Indian Band

“We view the First Nations Market Housing Fund as an important alternative to assist us as a whole to be able to provide fair market housing to our community members. This helps fulfill the back log that we have in providing quality homes for our community members. Our People will have the opportunity to come home with this initiative, live in their own community and their children may grow up within their culture and among their relatives.”
— Kukpi7 Ronald Ignace, Skeetchestn Indian Band

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. This investment, held in trust, has the potential to leverage $3 billion in investments in homes on reserve and on settlement lands and lands set aside for First Nations across Canada.

It is completely voluntary for First Nations to make use of the market-based fund. The Fund recognizes the uniqueness of First Nation communities and works with them on their own timelines to provide them with the choice and flexibility they need to provide viable housing options.  

The Fund has partnered with fourteen financial institutions to serve First Nations across the country.

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 for the best possible loan terms and conditions;
  • Strengthening First Nation communities and supporting increased self-sufficiency by providing financial literacy and financial management tools, enhancing the governance framework 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

Long Plain First Nation
Steven Woods
Special Projects Officer
204-252-2335

Skwah First Nation
Lory Oberst
Housing Manager
604-792-9204

Fisher River Cree Nation
Sam Murdock
Chief Executive Officer
204-645-2171

Alderville First Nation
Joanne Smoke
Chief Administrative Officer
905-352-2011 ext. 222

Lake Cowichan First Nation
Aaron Hamilton
Operations Manager
250-749-3301

Leq’á:mél First Nation
Susan McKamey
Band Manager
604-826-7976

Halalt First Nation
Caroline Gladstone
Band Manager
250-246-4736

Penelakut Tribe
Ruth Sauder
Tribe Administrator
250-246-2321

Nooaitch Indian Band
Dan Rodgers
Housing and Operations Manager
250-378-6141

Skeetchestn Indian Band
Ronald Ignace
Chief
250-373-2493

Backgrounder

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

Long Plain First Nation

A signatory to Treaty One, Long Plain First Nation is a proud Ojibway and Dakota community in the central plains region of Manitoba, situated on a land base of 10,800 acres. Long Plain is comprised of a main reserve and urban economic zones, situated along the city limits of Portage la Prairie, and in the city of Winnipeg, resulting from treaty land entitlement under a 2011 settlement.

Nearly half of approximately 4,400 citizens reside on reserve. In 2009, Long Plain established a Housing Authority to meet the needs of its members, both on and off reserve. The Nation currently administers 345 rental and residential leasing units, and is exploring homeownership expansion that would provide the ability for citizens to access housing loans, backed by the First Nations Market Housing Fund’s Credit Enhancement program, for home construction, purchase, rental or renovations in the community.

In the spring of 2015, Long Plain expanded development on its Madison Avenue lands in central Winnipeg with a Petro Canada gas station and convenience store, next to Yellowquill College and other commercially leased properties. Long Plain First Nation is home to several other sector services, such as, Dakota Ojibway Police Services, Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council, Long Plain Trust, and Gaming Commission.

Skwah First Nation

The Skwah First Nation is located in Chilliwack, British Columbia. Its 885 hectares of reserve lands are situated in close proximity to its traditional territory, which is now known as the Five Corners in downtown Chilliwack.

The Skwah First Nation is made up of four separate reserves, including Schelowat 1, Skwahla 2, Skwali 3 and Skwah 4 with undivided interests in other jointly held reserves Skumalasph 16, Pekw'xe:yles and Grass Indian 15. Skwah #4 is the main reserve where the community is located.

Approximately 240 of the 506 Skwah First Nation members live in the vibrant community and enjoy a mix of agricultural and residential land. As an urban reserve, Skwah First Nation members have access to a number of employment opportunities such as government and retail services, as well as the Band office, and Sto:lō Nation programs and services. Fishing and canoe races are also a large part of life at Skwah First Nation as the main reserve is located on the Hope Slough, allowing direct access to the Fraser River.

Housing in Skwah First Nation consists of 64 Band-owned and privately-owned homes. Skwah First Nation plans to offer homeownership and rental opportunities, including renovations to its members with loans backed by the Fund.

Fisher River Cree Nation

Fisher River Cree Nation (FRCN) is located along the shores of Lake Winnipeg and at the mouth of Fisher Bay approximately 200 km north of Winnipeg. Made up of two reserves (Fisher River 44 and Fisher River 44A), the Nation is home to 1,900 of its 3,700 Band members.

Fisher River is signatory to Treaty 5, and is an Independent First Nation. Although not associated with any of the Manitoba tribal councils, it is affiliated with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. In 2013, Fisher River signed a Political Protocol and Limited Partnership Agreement with Norway House and Sagkeeng First Nation, establishing a formal political and economic relationship.

FRCN has multiple employment opportunities in the First Nation such as Fisher River Builders; Laundromat & Car Wash; the grocery store; and, band administration, as well as in private contracting and commercial fishing. The Band is also involved in cottage lot developments with the Province of Manitoba and geo-thermal technology with Manitoba Hydro. Most recently, a Junior B Keystone Junior Hockey League franchise has been established in the Nation.

There are 516 homes within FRCN; 15% of the homes are serviced by a new modern water treatment plant. Traditionally, lots were allocated to members using the river allotment system, and this process is still in place today. Fisher River plans to offer homeownership and rental opportunities, including renovations to its members with loans backed by the Fund.

Alderville First Nation

Alderville is a thriving First Nation community, rich in heritage and culture, situated on Rice Lake in southern Ontario, approximately 30 kilometres north of Cobourg. The community’s population consists of 1,131 registered Band members, with 325 citizens living on-reserve.

Approximately 60 members are employed by the First Nation, and many others are small business owners in and outside of the community.

The majority of homes in Alderville are privately owned by community members, in large part, due to the success of the Nation’s revolving housing loans program established in 1975. Working with the First Nations Market Housing Fund, Alderville plans to expand housing loan options for members to buy, build, or renovate existing homes in the community. Among its current housing portfolio, Alderville administers 98 mortgages and 26 Band rental units.

Alderville elects a Chief and four members of Council under the Indian Act, and is a member Nation of Ogemawahj Tribal Council, representing six Chippewa, Mississauga and Pottawatomi First Nations. Alderville is home to an impressive memorial honouring First Nation veterans, an ecology centre offering educational events and tours, and a successful 5.7 mw solar farm operation.

Lake Cowichan First Nation

Lake Cowichan First Nation is located on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Resting at the head of the beautiful Cowichan River, Lake Cowichan’s 39 hectare reserve is home to 25 community members.

The Lake Cowichan First Nation is part of the Salishan linguistic group and is a member of the Hul'qumi'num Treaty Group along with five other First Nations in the surrounding area.

Although the First Nation is a small one, Lake Cowichan is currently working on its own membership code with the intention of reclaiming members who have moved away from the community and even out of the country.

Governed by a hereditary Chief and Council, Lake Cowichan First Nation is working diligently in providing programs and services to its members, creating strong and reciprocal relationships with the surrounding communities, and welcoming members back to the community.

The housing portfolio consists of six houses. The Nation is planning to develop a 25 lot subdivision to accommodate an anticipated increase in band membership.

Leq’á:mél First Nation

Leq’á:mél, meaning the level place where people meet, was once one of the most popular trading stops in Stó:lō territory. It was also said to have been the birthplace of Halq’eméylem; the word itself stems from the dialect spoken by the Nicoamen/ Leq’á:mél. Leq’á:mél was home to many of the longhouses, some recorded almost a kilometer long. Historically, affiliates were the Sumas, Scowlitz, Matsqui and Nooksack tribes. Leq’á:mél sits on the borderline of the Upper/Lower river dialects of the language, hence the translation of Leq’á:mél from Nicoamen.

Leq’á:mél First Nation is an Indian Band located in Deroche, 22 kilometers east of Mission, with a population of approximately 420 people. Leq’á:mél holds ten Indian Reserves (IR), Yaalstick IR #1, Lackaway IR #2, Lakway Cemetery IR #3, Papekwatchin IR #4, Aylechootlook IR #5, Holachten IR #8, Zaitscullachan IR #9, Skweahm IR #10, Lakahahmen IR #11 and Sumas Cemetery IR #12. Leq’á:mél utilizes three of these reserves for residential use, two as cemeteries, with the remainder either under a certificate of possession to members, leased for agricultural use or held for future economic development.

Leq’á:mél First Nation has a private home lenders program for members to access. The Nation’s housing portfolio, consisting of approximately 51 houses, including 17 Section 95 houses, 24 Section 10 houses, 7 privately owned and 10 CP’s transferred to family after the mortgage is paid in full. Two private homes were constructed in the community within the last two years, with private lender financing support. Service lots in the community include water, sewer and electricity. The Nation currently has 12 lots available for members to build their new homes.

Halalt First Nation

Halalt First Nation (Halalt) is located near the town of Chemainus on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Halalt is a member of the Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group, seeking to regain traditional lands and resources and increased governance jurisdiction. Halalt is also a member of the Naut'sa Mawt Tribal Council. Historically, the Halalt tribe resided offshore on Willy Island which is located in the Gulf Islands, and in villages on the Cowichan and Chemainus Rivers. Today Halalt consists of two reserves, one at Willy Island and the other along the Chemainus River at Westholme. Approximately half of the 211 registered citizens live on reserve.

Halalt refers to the original village name, xeláltxw, meaning ‘marked or painted houses’. One half of the 41 homes in the small village are privately owned by members. The majority of homes have undergone renovations. Another three have been secured through an on-reserve private housing loan program, while 12 are managed by the Nation as rent to own and rentals, including a four-plex unit.

The Nation recently completed construction of a water and wastewater treatment plant that will allow service expansion in the community and beyond. Accessing the Fund’s Credit Enhancement program will provide greater housing options for Halalt citizens in the near future.

Halalt First Nation employs 20 administrative staff, and operates a fishery that provides seasonal shellfish jobs for members. It plans to develop a gas station and commercial leasing on lands designated that will further create opportunities. Working with the Fund, Halalt has identified capacity development training for staff and policy development in the areas of finance, governance, and lands management.

Penelakut Tribe

Penelakut Tribe is located in the southern Gulf Islands between Vancouver Island and the mainland. The First Nation has four reserves among the islands of its traditional territory: Penelakut Island (formerly known as Kuper Island), Tsussie, Tent Island, and Galiano Island. Today, approximately 520 of the 938 members live on three of the four reserves. Penelakut Island is the largest of the reserves and is home to the majority of its members. Tsussie, a small reserve located south of Chemainus on the mainland Vancouver Island, is also home to a small number of members. At this time, Tent Island remains uninhabited and is a popular camp ground.

Historically, there were three permanent winter villages on Penelakut Island: at Penelakut Spit, Telegraph Harbour, and Lamalchi Bay. There were also villages at Chemainus Harbour and on Galiano Island. The term ‘Penelakut’ is used to refer to all the Hul’qumi’num people who, at one time or another, have lived among these islands.

Penelakut Tribe is a member of the Hul'qumi'num Treaty Group. In partnership with five other surrounding First Nations, the Hul'qumi'num Treaty Group is jointly negotiating a comprehensive treaty with British Columbia and Canada in the BC Treaty Process to officially secure recognition of aboriginal title and rights. As part of this treaty group, Penelakut Tribe has contributed to the research and documentation of language, heritage, resources and land issues.

The housing portfolio currently consists of 152 homes. Penelakut hopes to use the Fund to provide more housing options for its members.

Nooaitch Indian Band

The Nooaitch Indian Band is one of the member’s bands of the Nicola Valley Tribal Nation. Situated in the Nicola traditional territory, of what today to British Columbia is the Thompson-Nicola region of the southern interior, Nooaitch has two reserve bases totaling 1693.4 hectares, I.R. # 9 & I.R. # 10. The largest, I.R. #10, encompassing 903.1 hectares, is the main reserve where the community is based, and is situated 23 kilometers west of Merritt, B.C.

The general topography is a pristine area of rolling hills with river and creeks. Nooaitch to its northeast has lakes, and within it land base, relatively undeveloped land, well treed with small creeks and rolling hills. The current population is 112 members living on-reserve and approximately 79 members living off-reserve.

Nooaitch Indian Band currently has 53 residences and is addressing the community housing shortage through the construction of 12 homes over the last 10 years. A duplex was recently built (Summer 2014), with plans to build four new houses and possibly more in the summer of 2015.

Skeetchestn Indian Band

The Skeetchestn Indian Band is a member of the Secwepemc (Shuswap) Nation, located in the central interior region of British Columbia, about one hour west of Kamloops. The total population is approximately 530, with 225 members living on reserve. The main community is located at Savona, British Columbia.

There are 109 homes in the community with 42 Rent-to-Own and the remainder with mortgages paid in full and ownership transferred to the member. Skeetchestn Chief and Council and Administration work well together, implementing a Housing Management Plan that has been in place and updated since 1997. Housing policies of Skeetchestn require strict enforcement on rental collections, such as limiting services to members if there is any money owed to the Band and eviction if necessary.

The community has a small number of households on social assistance with the majority of members employed either with the Band, in nearby Kamloops and in the mining sector. Skeetchestn looks forward to working together with the Fund to provide access to new construction and renovation loans for its members. This includes development of a Fund backed mortgage loan program customized to Skeetchestn’s specifications along with the delivery of membership education and awareness sessions, such as credit and money management workshops.