Published on: March 29, 2021

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 strategy, they say, is “a turning point for the 87% of Indigenous households living in urban, rural and northern areas.” Taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the CHRA virtual conference in April, the Caucus is inviting the public to get involved in promoting the strategy or learn more about it to help advance the Reconciliation cause.

The Reconciliation movement in Canada is gaining more and more momentum these days, especially in the community-housing sector. Highlight speakers at the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association’s April 27-29 virtual Congress on Housing and Homelessness include well-known Indigenous voices such as Métis-Cree author Jesse Thistle, whose memoir, From the Ashes, put a human face on Indigenous homelessness, and Sheila Watt-Cloutier, an environmental activist who has spoken extensively about the effects of climate change on Inuit communities.

The Indigenous Caucus, which meets the day before the congress, will offer during the event innovation forum segments where topics such as building on partnerships and strategies for resilience in affordable housing will be explored. The event comes on the heels of a busy few months for the CHRA’s Indigenous Caucus. In November, they launched a “For Indigenous, By Indigenous” (aka FIBI) housing strategy that could serve as a template for an eventual urban, rural and northern Indigenous plan.

Thanks in part to vigorous campaigning, their FIBI strategy was included in the House of Commons finance committee’s recent pre-budget submissions.

As Justin Marchand, executive director of Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services, recently told the National Observer, a FIBI housing strategy is integral to reconciliation. “Housing is mentioned 299 times in the inquiry on [Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls]” he points out. Marchand is the incoming Chair of the CHRA Indigenous Housing Caucus, following Robert Byers, also President and CEO of Namerind Housing Corporation.

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