Indigenous communities on the North Coast are getting new housing.
The provincial government has announced 288 homes are being built in nine separate projects across the North, 206 specifically for the North Coast, Stikine and Skeena region. The announcement was made in a press release over the weekend.
The project kick-started by the Building B.C.: Indigenous Housing Fund includes both on- and off-reserve housing for nine communities in the northwest sector.
The communities in the north receiving on-reserve housing are Kitamaat Village, 29 homes, Lax Kw’alaams, 20 homes, Lhtako Dene Nation, 10 homes, Skidegate, 24 homes, and Witset First Nation, 26 homes.
Cities receiving off-reserve housing are Prince Rupert, 60 homes, Prince George, 50 homes, Quesnel, 27 homes, and Terrace, 48 homes.
Prince Rupert MLA Jennifer Rice said the announcement is a step in the right direction.
“Locally, I’ve witnessed many people couch surfing between their reserve communities and over-crowded homes in Prince Rupert. There’s not enough available housing both on and off reserve and Indigenous people are over-represented in the homeless population. This is a first step in reconciling this and reconciling with Indigenous peoples,” Rice said.
There haven’t been any specifics released for where the houses will be built in Rupert but MLA Rice said she is aware of the general area.
“The units in Prince Rupert are on some property that the society (Lax Kw’alaams WAAP Housing Society) owns on Prince Rupert Boulevard,” Rice said.
The housing units will be located near Gull Crescent in the east end of town.
B.C. is the first province to invest provincial housing funds into on-reserve housing, and while it is an important first step there is much work to be done.
“The housing situation facing Indigenous peoples in British Columbia is unacceptable,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing in a press release over the weekend.
The housing units are part of a 10-year $550 million plan to build 1,750 new units of housing for Indigenous peoples across the province.
The homes will all be built within the next four years.
The announcement was made on the Katzie First Nation reserve in Pitt Meadows.
“The needs identified by our community members both off- and on-reserve are significant and the vision of the supportive living model that was created is a stepping stone to not just housing, but toward healing,” said Chief Grace Leon Cunningham, Katzie First Nation.