“All First Nation members living on or away from their community have a right to shelter and they must be provided with an opportunity to access safe, secure, adequate and affordable housing.” (AFN: National First Nations Housing Strategy)
This Bulletin is an update from the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) on the First Nations National Housing and Infrastructure Strategy, a new approach to housing (including off-reserve housing) and infrastructure.
First Nations National Housing and Infrastructure Strategy
First Nations people must lead the development of a First Nations National Housing and Infrastructure Strategy to ensure the transformative change of housing and infrastructure is envisioned from a First Nations perspective. First Nations care and control of housing and infrastructure is the guiding principle.
First Nations are responsible for our members both on and off reserve. We need to ensure off-reserve housing is included in the scope of our Strategy, and we also need to include infrastructure as we can’t talk about housing without having the infrastructure to support it.
A new approach to meeting First Nations housing and infrastructure needs requires long-term sustainable investments and respect for regional perspectives and approaches. For example, First Nations north of 60 (Yukon and Northwest Territories) are not involved in the decision making process on how funds are spent for housing and infrastructure. As part of this transformative change, First Nations need to be involved in all decision making processes, and furthermore, funding needs to be flowed directly to First Nation communities for the care and control of housing and infrastructure.
The AFN’s Chiefs Committee on Housing and Infrastructure (CCoHI) provides political and technical guidance with respect to AFN’s engagement with Canada on housing and infrastructure related issues, thereby supporting the identification and development of strategies to better pursue a new approach to housing and infrastructure.
The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is mandated pursuant to but not limited to resolutions, 70/2015, 74/2015, 96/2016, 98/2016 passed by the Chiefs-in-Assembly, to engage with the Federal Government on housing and infrastructure.
At the recent 2017 AFN Annual General Assembly held in Regina, Saskatchewan, a resolution was passed by the Chiefs-in-Assembly that directed the AFN and Chiefs Committee on Housing and Infrastructure to jointly develop, with the federal government, a Terms of Reference for the establishment of a joint Working Group that will develop a First Nations National Housing and Infrastructure Strategy, which will include housing both on- and off-reserve.
This resolution further directs the AFN and the CCoHI to work in partnership with First Nations and the Government of Canada on the co-development of a strategic plan with short, medium and long-term objectives and outcomes, which will be implemented to contribute to the development of a National First Nations Housing and Infrastructure Strategy.
The AFN, Chiefs Committee on Housing and Infrastructure (CCoHI) and AFN Regional Housing Technicians are working towards developing a Terms of Reference with Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), and other federal departments and agencies with a mandate for housing and on-reserve community infrastructure (e.g. the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), Health Canada).
The Working Group will work towards obtaining and sharing information on First Nation views on a new approach to housing, including off-reserve housing and infrastructure. The Working Group will ensure First Nations leadership and their representatives’ take a lead role on the transformative change of housing and infrastructure as envisioned from their perspective and regional priorities.
The immediate work of the Working Group will be to develop the scope and parameters to assist regional engagement sessions so that information gathered will lead to the development of the First Nations Housing and Infrastructure Strategy.
First Nations led regional engagement sessions will commence over the summer and fall of 2017.
The AFN will continue to engage with First Nations at upcoming forums and think tank sessions to seek broader input from First Nations leadership, technician, regional organizations and other stakeholders on housing and infrastructure reform. A Housing Forum is being planned for October 30th to November 1st, 2017 in Montreal, Quebec.
Further information on these upcoming engagement sessions, AFN forums and think tank sessions will be posted on the AFN website.
For more information please contact Irving Leblanc, Director, Housing, Infrastructure and Emergency Services, [email protected].