A necessary step towards housing for all
For thousands of years, Indigenous Peoples found ways to live symbiotically as part of the ecosystem located on what is today named Canada. Their occupation of the territory was managed according to values that regarded land as a resource to be respected in order to be sustainable for itself and all its inhabitants.
In that system, the land welcomed the people and, in return for this hospitality, those living on and from it had the shared responsibility to protect that relationship, thus ensuring their own survival as well as that of future generations.
When the first Europeans came to this territory, Indigenous Peoples did not particularly welcome nor resent their arrival. It was merely the introduction of one more actor in a space already shared between many groups.
What changed with this new group is the vision that the land, instead of being something you respected and shared, became something to be owned and traded. This paradigm change in the relationships between the territory and the people was neither hoped, desired, discussed, negotiated, nor agreed upon by Indigenous Peoples.
In essence, the forced imposition of a new type of relationship between people as well as the management of the land by a foreign group for its sole profit is the definition of colonialism. Colonialism is a system that establishes every relationship, would it be economic, cultural or social, to be advantageous to the colonial agent and detrimental to the Indigenous one.
The Community Housing Transformation Centre acknowledges those hundreds of years of systematic unbalanced and unfair relationships as the primary source and driver of the ever-increasing housing crisis Indigenous individuals, communities and nations are facing.
The Centre is convinced that the notion of community housing, meaning homes collectively owned and managed to answer the needs and rights of all to be sheltered appropriately in return of a contribution (financial and social) established in accordance with their means, is largely inspired by values and knowledge attuned to the Indigenous traditions and understanding of the world.
As such, the Centre is convinced that championing community housing is one of the paths toward reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and the construction of a sustainable social and economic model based on respect, trust, cooperation and collaboration between and toward individuals, communities, peoples and the land. When properly implemented, community housing is an empowering tool to achieve one’s rights, capacities and hopes, while strengthening the whole of community, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous.
Based on that analysis, the Centre recognizes that the colonization of the said territory over the past 500 years has been carried out through a process marked by systematic practices of banditry, violence, contempt, predation, discrimination, racism and aggression against Indigenous individuals, peoples and nations, including the Inuit and Métis. We firmly believe that colonization and its harmful effects will continue as long as Canadian society, its institutions and the population in general, does not recognize this state of affairs and neglects to carry out acts of reparation and reconciliation commensurate with this abuse. As an organization working for the full realization of the right to housing for all, it is obvious to us that this right cannot be achieved without special intervention to correct the situation created by the systemic denial of the rights of Indigenous Peoples of this land.
In addition, we affirm our hope and ambition that Canadian society will recognize and facilitate leadership, ownership and appropriation by the Indigenous Peoples themselves of the tools and actions leading to the respect of their rights and aspirations. Finally, we are convinced that these gestures are a prerequisite for the accomplishment of the right to housing for all, including by other groups facing discrimination such as linguistic minorities, racialized people, women, LGBTQ+ and people living with disability.
Upon those assertions and ambitions, the Centre commits to:
- Promote the criticality of reconciliation within and outside the Centre
- Focus on and respond to Calls to Action related to Indigenous Peoples
- Engage and support Indigenous-led and/or managed housing providers and support their transformation agendas
- Create tools and training to support community housing providers in reconciliation efforts.
Learn about News and Awarded Projects that relate to
Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples
When it comes to housing, Indigenous realities are often ignored or misunderstood in the western culture, even in advocacy programs like Rent Smart, which aims to train and empower tenants. The Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary is reconciling the two worlds by adapting Rent Smart tenancy training to embrace Indigenous culture and values.
The Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association has set ambitious goals in its plans to address Indigenous housing needs. With one-in-four Indigenous persons in Ontario living in poverty, affordable housing is seen as an important way to reduce stressors faced by so many First Nations, Métis and Inuit people, both on- and off-reserve.
Indigenous people are often the first to feel the effects of climate change. From disruptions of traditional hunting and fishing routines to shortened ice-road seasons, the ecological crisis affects daily life in very concrete ways in Canada’s northern communities. Since housing is the largest consumer of energy, the Indigenous Clean Energy (ICE) Social Enterprise seeks to share innovative approaches both within Indigenous communities and with the community-housing sector as a whole.
The Indigenous Caucus of the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association has been busy in recent months. In November, it proposed a For Indigenous, By Indigenous strategy to address community-housing challenges.
The Centre d’amitié autochtone du Lac-Saint-Jean, in Roberval, Québec, is working to improve housing conditions for Indigenous people, as more and more leave the reserve to settle in urban areas, by engaging in dialogue with non-Indigenous homeowners.
To spotlight their dedication to Reconciliation, the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association and the CHRA Indigenous Caucus have recently released a Statement on Reconciliation and Cultural Principles, with the hope to encourage sector organizations to reconfirm...
The CMHC’s annual Northern Housing Report paints a bleak picture of the housing market in Canada’s northern territories, where a high percentage of residents lack suitable, adequate and affordable housing.
In Kamloops, B.C., an innovative approach to improve outcomes for Indigenous youth aging out of foster care is the talk of the town. Kikékyelc [pronounced Kee-kek-yel-c] is an affordable housing complex where youth is teamed with elders to promote natural...
The Montreal Indigenous community NETWORK has shared the Indigenous Ally Toolkit. With the intention to explore “the role that an individual occupies and plays within the collective experience,” the toolkit is an important resource to educate non-Indigenous allies while demystifying allyship and what it entails. This resource was created by The Montreal Indigenous community NETWORK.
Discover Projects that Transform the Community Housing Sector
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Sectoral Impact Projects
Develop new services, models or tools to help the sector build and manage affordable housing.
Sector Transformation Fund
Enhance the capacity of your local organization to provide affordable housing in a better way.
Community-Based Tenant Initiative
Develop projects that aim to engage tenants/co-op members in housing decisions that affect them.