This story is part of our Progress 2021 publication. You can read the special edition in its entirety on our website.
New housing is a priority for the First Nations whose territories encompass the Alberni Valley and surrounding region.
At Huu-ay-aht First Nations, a grant from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation will translate into 11 new housing units in Anacla by March 2022.
Huu-ay-aht and Uchucklesaht First Nations both received Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI) grants to build homes in their respective communities. The CMHC announced a total RHI investment of nearly $7 million to build 19 units of affordable housing for B.C. First Nations under the National Housing Strategy.
Huu-ah-aht received $3.62 million for its development with the remainder going to Uchucklesaht for seven units of housing.
“We have made a commitment to our people to create a safe, healthy place to live where they can connect with the land and their culture,” Tahiti Hawil Aiisin (head Hereditary Chief Derek Peters) said in mid-May.
“A key to fulfilling this commitment is offering proper housing in our hahuuli (traditional territory), and this grant allows us to take a big step toward that goal. By doing this, we honour our sacred principles of ?iisaak (utmost respect), ?uu?aluk (taking care of) and Hisuk ma cawak (everything is one).”
Work on the units began in March 2021 and includes a fourplex, duplex and five single-family homes of varying sizes.
“This 11-unit housing project builds on the success of our 2020 housing project, and it brings our total new housing units up to 22,” Chief Councillor Robert Dennis Sr. said.
“Thanks to the timely contribution from CMHC we are able to offer affordable housing to more of our citizens so they can move home and enjoy our wonderful homeland.”
Huu-ay-aht and BC Housing are also partnering to build Oomiiqsu, a 16-unit culturally appropriate Mother Centre in Port Alberni designed to keep Indigenous families together. Oomiiqsu will also offer child-care spaces, administration offices and meeting rooms.
The provincial government last week announced 47 new affordable housing projects through the Building BC: Community Housing Fund. Among the projects to receive funding is one in Port Alberni, 35 homes for Indigenous Peoples at 4210 Cedarwood St., in partnership with Citaapi Mahtii Housing Society. An amount of funding was not revealed for any of the individual projects; the Community Housing Fund is an investment of $1.9 billion to build more than 14,000 affordable rental homes for moderate- and low-income families and individuals.