The Nuxalk Nation has received new funding to address its housing challenges with a completely different approach. The funding, which is distributed by Indigenous Services Canada’s new Indigenous Homes Innovation Initiative, will support 24 Indigenous innovators in moving forward with developing their ideas.
The innovators come from all regions of Canada and their ideas cover a range of new ways to respond to Indigenous social and housing needs. The Innovation Initiative’s Indigenous Steering Committee, comprising First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation experts in infrastructure and housing, selected the 24 innovators out of the 342 who had submitted ideas to the Initiative.
The Nuxalk Nation was one of those 24 innovators selected to receive funding in this preliminary phase, coined the “Accelerator” period, of the program.
Innovators are receiving up to $350,000 worth of funding and support services, and they will spend up to 18 months working with experts during the Accelerator period.
Innovators that complete the Accelerator period and successfully demonstrate that their proposal is ready for implementation will receive implementation funding. Lessons learned from the Accelerator will also provide useful information for Indigenous communities toward addressing their housing needs.
“We started by meeting with all the of the Nation’s administration and Health and Wellness managers,” Nuxalk Housing Coordinator Carrigan Tallio explained.
“The vision is to enrich the lives of our elders by creating an affordable, modernized version of our traditional building styles as well as giving the option for overhoused individuals to sell their homes.”
“Overhoused” is a term used when people’s living situations are greater than their needs. As Tallio explained, many elders are now living in homes that are too large for them.
“We want to give them the chance to sell or pass on their homes to the families if they desire,” she said.
The proposal details the construction of an Elders’ Village; a family-centered housing community that supports intergenerational living, flexible community spaces and traditional art, culture and natural landscape in the design.
The idea moves away from western nuclear housing and brings forward the community practices used by Nuxalkmc ancestral ways of living. It will also provide wrap-around health and wellness services.
Tallio, who is spearheading the project with her co-lead, Clean Energy Co-ordinator Vince Robinson, says that the recent Acceleration Event they attended at Tigh-Na-Mara in Parksville, British Columbia, provided some valuable discussions with their fellow innovators.
“We were able to connect and share stories with the other innovators that had submitted successful proposals,” said Tallio.
“It was a great opportunity to learn off each other; there are some amazing ideas out there.”
For his part, Robinson said his focus as co-lead with clean energy is to “participate in a good way.”
“There are so many different ways to utilize clean energy,” he said.
Tallio has now been paired up with Christopher Clarke, a Métis architect who will mentor the team through this first phase of the project, which is expected to last 18 months.
The team will also focus on community engagement and feedback for the project.
Once the project makes it past the Innovation phase, the Nuxalk Nation will be eligible for capital funds for construction.