Difference Makers — Fund Welcomes Six New Partnerships

REGINA, July 26, 2017 — The First Nations Market Housing Fund (“the Fund”) footprint continues to grow with the addition of six new partnership agreements with First Nations communities. 230 First Nations have now chosen to work with the Fund.

“These First Nations’ commitment to market-based housing will bring their citizens one step closer to the dream of home ownership,” stated John Beaucage, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Fund. “These partnerships between our First Nation organization and First Nations governments are difference makers. They will lead to more homeownership and more vibrant and prosperous communities.”

The Fund enables First Nations to guarantee financing for a new home, to renovate and modernize an existing home, or create other market-based housing solutions for citizens on reserve and on settlement lands. Credit has been approved for close to $925 million in 108 First Nations communities that could see some 6,300 home loans.

Here’s what the leaders of the six newest Fund partners have to say:

“Working with the Fund is more than increasing housing options in the community, it is also about strengthening the financial stability, independence and pride in home ownership on an individual and collective basis. We look forward to working with the Fund to achieve our community's vision.”
— Chief Richard Shecapio, Cree Nation of Mistissini

“Financing has been a problem, and we are very pleased to finally be partnering with the First Nations Market Housing Fund, so that our Members have greater access to mortgage funds. The individual assistance from the Fund, through finance workshops and one-on-one credit counselling, is expected to allow those that don’t presently, qualify for loans.”
— Chief Lester Anaquot, Saugeen First Nation

“We are pleased that our members now have more options for home ownership and home improvement in our community through the First Nations Market Housing Fund. Our governance in the area of housing will improve through new and upgraded housing policy and procedures with the goal to make it easier for community members to access housing purchases and housing upgrades. This also creates an opportunity for the existence of a housing market where members can more easily buy and sell houses within the community. We look forward to capacity development initiatives that will benefit our staff and community as a whole. We welcome this new housing initiative to Wahta Mohawks.”
— Chief Philip Franks

“The vision of Mattagami First Nation as a healthy, vibrant community is very much in line with the goals of the Fund. This new partnership enables our Nation to continue growing our governing capacity as a self-sufficient community, and develop the tools needed to assist more of our members in achieving their individual potential as homeowners in our community.”
— Chief Chad Boissoneau

“Chapleau Cree First Nation embraces the notion of building community homes and infrastructure to meet the needs of the growing community. Our children deserve a healthy environment, and that begins with a good home. Future development will bring growth and innovative fair market housing for new home owners. Chapleau Cree intends on building and maintaining homes for the approaching seasons. This is based on our vision and values of investing in the community and sustaining management of our treaty land settlement.”
— Chief Keith Corston

“Nuxalk hired a champion to manage the affairs related to housing and the Nation’s assets. This endeavour is supported by Chief and Council. The reality of an experienced housing person will benefit the Nation, providing that internal politics has no interference with growth of the Nation. This opportunity provides options to utilize the resources available to benefit the Nation, and sustain the community and build capacity to support the economy. Working with the First Nations Market Housing Fund will benefit the Nation’s growth as we move forward into the future.”
— Chief Wally Webber

The First Nations Market Housing Fund

The Fund is a registered not-for-profit trust established by the Government of Canada, which was born out of what has become known as the Kelowna Accord. First Nations communities continue to lag behind the rest of Canada in health and most social and economic determinants — including housing. The latest figures from Statistics Canada, in 2011, show that 31 percent of on-reserve units were privately owned compared with approximately 69 percent of non-indigenous Canadians.

The Fund helps First Nations families overcome the barriers to home ownership and close the housing gap. The federal government’s one-time investment of $300 million in the Fund has the potential to leverage $3 billion of investments in homes on reserve and on settlement lands and lands set aside for First Nations across Canada.

The Fund helps First Nations 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 Nations 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.

The Fund works with financial institutions committed to providing a high level of service to First Nation governments

The Fund’s growing list of both national and regional financial institutions across Canada which have chosen to finance loans backed by the Fund, includes BMO; CIBC; Peace Hills Trust; First Nations Bank of Canada; Vancouver City Savings, Affinity and Valley First Credit Unions; Envision Financial; Desjardins Group; Northern Savings Credit Union; and six Caisse populaires in Ontario located in Hearst, Kapaskasing, Verner, Alban, Noëlville and Sturgeon Falls.

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

Wahta Mohawks
Chief Philip Franks
705-762-2354

Mattagami First Nation
Juanita Luke
Executive Director
705-894-2072

Cree Nation of Mistissini
Bella P. Loon
Communications Officer
418-923-3461 ext. 278

Saugeen First Nation
Cheree Ursheler
A/Band Administrator
1-800-680-0744

Chapleau Cree Nation
Patty Ann Owl
Economic Development Officer
705-864-0784

Nuxalk Nation
Richard J. Hall
Asset Manager
1-877-799-5959

Backgrounder

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

Cree Nation of Mistissini

The Cree Nation of Mistissini (CNM), Cree or “Eeyouch” for “big rock”, is the largest Cree community of the James Bay Crees of Quebec. Mistissini is situated at the south-east end of Mistassini Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Quebec.

CNM has a registered population of approximately 4,000, with 90% living on reserve.

There are approximately 1000 housing units in the community which include 600+ rentals, 50 rent-to-own, 100 private home ownerships managed by CNM and, an additional 250 units owned and managed by the Cree Nation Government entities including the Cree Health and Social Services and School Boards.

In 2016, CNM adopted a new direction in housing which places an emphasis on private homeownership. This approach involves a design and build concept with the result being a final sale to qualified members of the Cree Nation of Mistissini. Consistent with this new direction, CNM is currently building 20 units which are intended for sale to CNM members. The CNM has a land tenure system under the Cree Naskapi Act which grants a Right of Superficie to use and occupy land designated for homeownership.

CNM is working with the First Nations Market Housing Fund to enhance opportunities and capacity to support new construction, as well as the purchase, refinance, or renovation of an existing home, and to further support member education workshops and one-on-one outreach counselling to enhance eligibility for homeownership and management of personal finances.

Saugeen First Nation

Saugeen First Nation is an Ojibway community found on the shores of Lake Huron at the Base of the Bruce Peninsula, two miles northeast of Southampton and approximately eighteen miles west of Owen Sound, Ontario.

Saugeen First Nation operates 20 departments and 2 businesses on reserve, in addition to many growing small businesses run by community members. The Nation provides both seasonal and year-round employment for 150 staff, including the management of its lands and cottage leases. South Sauble Beach Park, operated seasonally by the Nation, is known for its shallow, sandy beach, which is driveable. The area is a popular destination for hiking, fishing, and swimming.

Saugeen has a population of approximately 1,750 members; nearly half live on reserve. Home ownership and housing in general are important to this community. The majority of 185 homes built on reserve are privately owned; 25 are Band rentals, including apartment units and an Elder’s complex.

The public is invited to sample Saugeen’s Ojibway cultural heritage and experience their gracious hospitality. The Saugeen First Nation Amphitheatre and gardens, located in the heart of the village are a continued source of pride.

Wahta Mohawks

The Wahta Mohawk Nation is one of eight First Nations that make up the Iroquois Confederacy; it is recognized as the Eastern Door. The Wahta community was founded when a group of the Mohawk people moved from Kanesatake, Oka, Quebec to Gibson Township in 1881. The Wahta Mohawks are mainly descended from Mohawks who were members of the Five Nations confederacy, which also included the Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca. When the Tuscarora joined in the in the early 1700’s they became the Six Nations Confederacy. The Confederacy still exists and the People continue to refer to themselves as Haudenosaunee or People of the Longhouse.

Wahta is located approximately eight kilometres from the town of Bala, Ontario and consists of two reserves: Indian River and Wahta Mohawk Territory. The total land base is approximately 14,795 acres. Wahta has successfully negotiated additions to the reserve, part of which is located close to the intersection of Muskoka Rd 38 and the Hwy 400 interchange. These additions will provide the community with significant economic development opportunities in the near future. In addition, there are 21 member - or band-owned businesses operating within the community.

Wahta has a membership of almost 750, with 175 individuals living in the community. The Nation plans to work with the First Nations Market Housing Fund to expand options for homeownership, as well as provide some additional rental housing on the territory.

Mattagami First Nation

Mattagami First Nation is home to the Ojibway and Oji-Cree tribes who have long occupied the Mattagami River shores and the Mattagami Lake areas as far as the Moose River head waters of the James Bay coast. A signatory to Treaty #9, Mattagami was relocated in 1921 after the original community flooded from hydro development. Translated, the Ojibway word “Mattagami” means ‘Meeting Of The Waters’.

Nearly 180 members out of 580 reside today in the community, which is an 80-kilometre drive southeast of Timmins, or 20 kilometres northwest of Gogama, Ontario. The efforts of community members and students of the Mattagami school are helping to restock the community’s lake with prized fish. Since it began, the Band’s walleye fish hatchery has introduced about 7 million walleye fry in the lake system.

Pride in homeownership is evident in Mattagami First Nation with 45 privately owned homes built. Members have the opportunity to own their own homes once a housing loan is paid in full through a Certificate of Possession issued by the Nation. There is a dedicated housing department in place to manage the community’s housing portfolio of 69 units, including rentals and teacherages. Working in partnership with the Fund, Mattagami’s goal is to strengthen housing and administrative capacity, and provide more market-based homeownership options for members, benefitting generations to come.

In 1962, Mattagami First Nation made history by electing an all-women Chief and Council. Mattagami is represented at the regional level by Wabun Tribal Council and Nishnawbe-Aski Nation (NAN).

Chapleau Cree First Nation

Chapleau Cree First Nation, also known as the Fox Lake Reserve, is situated 5 kilometres southwest of the town of Chapleau, Ontario, at the bottom of the Artic Watershed where water flows north to the James Bay. The original settlement of the Chapleau Cree was on the Nebskwashi River, east of the town of Chapleau, and in 1989, Chapleau Cree negotiated land to establish a permanent community. In September 2016, Chapleau Cree further reached an agreement for compensation with Canada and nearly 4,000 square hectares of provincial Crown land from Ontario as part of an unfulfilled Treaty 9 entitlement. Chapleau Cree First Nation is a tribal member of the Mushkegowuk Council, and political-territorial affiliate of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation.

Approximately 12% of the of the Nation’s 420 members currently reside on the 10.36 square kilometre reserve. The Nation has 38 homes, most of which are privately owned, along with a senior’s residence, administrative offices complex, health centre, Public Works Garage, and Water Treatment Plant. The Pimii Kamik Gas Bar, Chapleau Cree Small Engines and Chapleau Cree Auto/Truck Garage are band-owned businesses that are located in the community providing employment and access to services.

Chapleau Cree members have been returning to the community with potential employment growth in the mining sector. Working with the First Nations Market Housing Fund, Chapleau Cree continues to improve housing conditions and increase housing development for members as part of planning a five-year economic development strategy to bring new infrastructure and opportunities into the community.

Nuxalk Nation

(Gathering of people to form one: One heart one mind)

The Nuxalk Nation is located in Great Bear Rain forests of BC. The community is surrounded by the steep Coastal Mountains and is nestled in the pristine rich valley of Bella Coola. The main community is situated on the meeting point of the Bella Coola River and the Bentick Arm of the Pacific Ocean.

The Nuxalkmc have traditionally depended on the rivers and streams that cut through the 80-kilometer valley. The ocean, rivers and streams supply the abundance of salmon, eulachon, Dungeness crab, prawns, and other deep seafoods. The valley and fjords supply a flavor of traditional roots, traditional vegetables, greens, wild berries, and wild game from their home territories.

The community is accessible by air from Vancouver and by ferry from Port Hardy or by road from Williams Lake, BC. The 320 miles of adventurous paved highway is partly gravel; the gravel road portion descends into the valley at an 18% grade for 19 kilometers.

In the community of two villages, one half of the Nation’s 1734 registered Nuxalkmc live in approximately 260 units; 216 privately-owned homes and approximately 41 rental units. Nuxalk Nation has been working to increase housing opportunities in the community, as well as ensuring high quality construction suited to compliment the wet west coast; minimize fossil fuel burning; and yet meet green options, energy savings and most importantly the economic life style of the Bella Coola valley and community.

The Nation has made significant changes to its approach to construction including incorporation of its own building specifications booklets, building code practices, standardization of materials and using “as builds” as training opportunities for Nuxalk members looking to get into the trades. Nuxalk Nation, in partnership with the First Nations Market Housing Fund, has plans to expand their home ownership options for members to construct new homes that suit the economic, social, and cultural needs with the options to purchase on reserve, refinance, or complete renovations on existing homes in the community.