Dream of Home Ownership is a Reality – Fund Welcomes 4 New Partners in British Columbia

Vancouver, July 25, 2018 — The dream of building, purchasing or renovating a home in your community has come true for many First Nations citizens who have partnered with the First Nations Market Housing Fund (“the Fund). Today, the Fund is pleased to announce 4 new British Columbia partners.

“Since the Fund opened its doors 10 years ago, we’ve seen a growing recognition about the value and possibilities of home ownership across First Nations. Individuals now know they no longer have to go it alone- they are creating wealth and building the homes of their choice with the help of a bank mortgage backed by the Fund,” stated John Beaucage, Chair of the Fund.

To date, 240 First Nations have accepted that change including Kispiox Band, K’ómoks First Nation, Katzie First Nation and Tsal’alh Band. Each partnering First Nation has taken important steps forward to expand market-based housing options for their citizens and make the dream of home ownership a reality.

The Fund has approved potential credit of $950 million for some 6,600 home loans to date, representing a significant investment in First Nations communities across Canada.

“On behalf of Kispiox Band, I am grateful for all of the work that the staff of FNMHF have carried out thus far. Having been assessed and approved for Credit Enhancement is very beneficial to the community. Partnering with the First Nations Market Housing Fund has increased accessibility to lower interest rates from the various banking institutes associated with this FNMHF program.
The on-going support through the Capacity Development program that is offered through the FNMHF, for the development of staff and council has been an excellent opportunity to increase the skills, knowledge, and autonomy of the Kispiox Band.” - Chief Louise Johnson

“K’ómoks First Nation’s Chief and Council are pleased to work with the FNMHF to provide opportunities for our members with regard to housing. FNMHF makes it possible for members to build their homes and move back to our community, which is a goal of our nation as set out by our members in our comprehensive community plan.” - Chief Nicole Rempel

“Katzie First Nation is growing rapidly and we are so happy to be able to extend this prospect of home ownership to our membership so they can continue to build capacity while addressing housing needs. This enhancement brings an aspect of sustainability and we are looking forward to building this relationship with the First Nations Market Housing Fund.” - Chief Grace Cunningham

“There is no place like home, and to have a home brings security and comfort to everyone. A home brings long lasting, caring and happy memories. We are not just building houses, we are creating homes for Tsal’alhmec.” - Chief Ida Mary Peter

“The overwhelming feedback from our partners is that they share our belief that a sound market-housing option, such as the one the Fund offers, will be an integral part of their housing toolbox as First Nations move forward,” added Mr. Beaucage. “As a proud First Nations organization, we know our work has just begun.”

The First Nations Market Housing Fund

The Fund is a registered not-for-profit trust established by the Government of Canada, which was born out of what has become known as the Kelowna Accord. First Nations communities continue to lag behind the rest of Canada in health and most social and economic determinants — including housing.

The latest figures from Statistics Canada, in 2011, show that 31 percent of on-reserve units were privately owned compared with approximately 69 percent of non-indigenous Canadians. According to the 2016 Census:

  • one‑fifth (19.4%) of the total Aboriginal population in Canada reported living in a dwelling in need of major repairs compared to 6.0% of the non-Aboriginal population;
  • close to one-fifth (18.3%) of the Aboriginal population lived in housing that was considered not suitable for the number of people who lived there, according to the National Occupancy Standard.

The Fund helps First Nations families overcome the barriers to home ownership and close the housing gap. The federal government’s one-time investment of $300 million in the Fund has the potential to leverage $3 billion of investments in homes on reserve and on settlement lands and lands set aside for First Nations across Canada.

The Fund helps First Nations communities by:

  • Providing a 10% backstop for housing loans guaranteed by the First Nation;
  • Providing financial leverage to negotiate with lenders for the best possible loan terms and conditions;
  • Strengthening First Nations communities and supporting increased self-sufficiency by providing financial literacy and financial management tools, enhancing the governance framework, and developing capacity with education, information, and innovative services.

The Fund works with financial institutions committed to providing a high level of service to First Nation governments:

The Fund’s growing list of both national and regional financial institutions across Canada which have chosen to finance loans backed by the Fund, includes BMO; CIBC; Peace Hills Trust; First Nations Bank of Canada; Vancouver City Savings, Affinity and Valley First Credit Unions; Envision Financial; Desjardins Group; Northern Savings Credit Union; Williams Lake and District Credit Union and the Caisse populaire Alliance limitée.

For more information, please visit the Fund’s website at www.fnmhf.ca.

Media Contacts:

First Nations Market Housing Fund
Deborah Taylor
Executive Director
613-740-9931

Kispiox Band
Keith Morgan, Bgs.
Kispiox Band Manager
250-842-5248 Ext. 103

K’ómoks First Nation
Tina McLean
Band Administrator
9250-339-4545

Katzie First Nation
Denis Vaillancourt
Finance Manager
604-465-8961

Tsal’alh
Crystal Branget, MBA
Administrator
250-259-8227 Ext. 201

Backgrounder

A Snapshot of the First Nations Market Housing Fund’s Latest Partners

Kispiox Band

Kispiox Band is situated within the Gitksan Territory fifteen kilometres on the Kispiox Valley Road north of Hazelton at the junction of the Kispiox and Skeena Rivers. The size of the community is 1650 acres. Kispiox is surrounded by mountains and rivers which create a spectacular landscape that is breathtaking.

Anspayaxw translates to "People of the Hiding Place", the community of Kispiox is one of six ancient Gitksan communities which exist today in the area. Kispiox is estimated to be about 3,000 years old, having existed, like several other villages, since the time the population was dispersed from the ancient city of Txemlax’amid by a disaster. Archaeological and oral history evidence indicate that the Gitksan occupied the valley of the Ksan or Skeena River following the last ice age about 10,000 years ago. Villages have been found and abandoned throughout Gitksan history. The last two villages to relocate were Kuldo’o and Gisga’g’as; they moved to Kispiox and Gitanmaax. Today, there are 7 First Nation communities within Gitksan territory.

Kispiox Band is governed by an elected body consisting of nine Councillors and one Chief Councillor. The Kispiox Band Office staff consists of fifteen permanent full-time employees, two machine operators, casual laborer’s and seasonal sylvicultural crews.

Kispiox Band has a total membership of 1,646 members as of May 31, 2018 – 584 reside on-reserve and 1,062 members reside off-reserve.

K’ómoks First Nation

K’ómoks First Nation (KFN) is a small community comprised of Kwakwaka’wakw and Northern Coast Salish tribes of British Columbia, nestled between the Town of Comox and City of Courtenay on Vancouver Island. Nearly one-third of K’ómoks’ over 330 members live in the community.

KFN has four separate reserves, including Comox IR #1, Puntledge IR#2, and Goose Spit IR#3 and Sayward #1 for a total land base of approximately 2,807 hectares. This land base may change significantly as a large amount of land is under consideration by K’ómoks who is currently in the Treaty process.

KFN’s IR# 1 includes 82 homes owned by community members with 2 duplexes that are Band-owned and rented out to community members. It is the only area of lands under First Nation jurisdiction that provides housing for community members. The Nation's housing department, supported by a housing committee, oversees housing administration programs including home ownership and encourage community members to move and live on Reserve. Recently, KFN, in partnership with the Fund, expanded housing possibilities for eligible members who desire to own a home in their own community. KFN is currently developing a new subdivision which will add approximately 27 housing lots, in phases, for members to build new homes.

This latest endeavor supports the vision of all KFN members, which states, “K’ómoks First Nation is a prosperous and healthy community where each member has the right to self-sufficiency”.

“Comox” is an anglicization of K’ómoks, which is derived from the Kwakw’ala term, kw’umalha, meaning “plentiful, rich, wealthy”.

Katzie First Nation

The Katzie First Nation (KFN) has a membership of almost 600 with half of the members living on 3 reserves. The main community borders the City of Pitt Meadows, BC on the north bank of the Fraser River. The First Nation has been recognized regionally and nationally for its efforts in partnering with the City of Pitt Meadows for municipal services and relationship building. The majority of members who live on reserve work off reserve.

There are approximately 120 homes on reserve with most homes being privately owned, with Certificates of Possession. There are also a number of rent-to-own arrangements and some rental units. The Housing Department is overseen by an elected councillor as their primary portfolio, who works collaboratively with Chief and Council and the administration to ensure a fair and equitable approach to housing for the community on all 3 reserves. As a certified Land Code Band, Katzie will now be issuing Certificates of Permanent Interest and developing laws and policies to support certainty of ownership and land tenure.

Katzie is actively working with the Fund to increase housing options on reserve, build staff capacity, strengthen laws and policies with an emphasis on housing and lands, and to support member awareness initiatives such as wills and estates training that will lead to greater self-reliance and protect member interests.

Tsal’alh

St’át’imc - Tsal’alhmec, The People of the Lake (Tsal’alh Membership), that have lived and thrived along the lake since time immemorial, are located in a semi-isolated, remote area at the most central/northern point of the St’át’imc Territory along the shores of Seton and Anderson Lake. As one of the 11 St’át’imc communities within the St’át’imc Territory they have always had a close relationship with the land and collective stewardship responsibility that is very important to the Tsal’alhmec. They understand and respectfully acknowledge the legacy that their ancestors have left them, and with their guidance they will continue to live their culture and traditions for generations to come.

Today as St’at’imc - Tsal’alhmec membership is about 700 and growing strong, with approximately 320 members who live on reserve. The community has its own pre-school, elementary school, high school, health centre, fire hall and an elder’s lodge. They also have a gas bar, RV Park, Hotel, sawmill, and produce many fine arts and crafts, in addition to being the main Internet Service Provider in the area.

Tsal’alh is very busy in developing a new band office, additions to school, daycare facility, housing and infrastructure. The Nation’s housing portfolio consists of approximately 60 houses being rented, and about 50 band-member owned homes. Because of the increase in demand for housing, alternatives are currently being explored such as row housing, in-law suites and single-family units. Tsal`alh is looking forward to working with the Fund as they advance their plans for these initiatives, to provide safe, affordable, innovative, comfortable homes that Tsal’alhmec can be proud of.