Will the New Housing Pilot Really Help the Dene People?

The federal government spends $200,000 a year to approve Dene Nation’s Strategic Housing Plan

By: Charlotte Hui

Northwest Territories -Today, situated on Treaty 8 Territory, Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, and Dene National Chief Gerald Antoine announced additional funding for the Dene Nation’s Strategic Housing initiative.

The new housing pilot project will help the Dene community develop more affordable housing for the community. As remote northern Canada faces perennial housing and infrastructure problems, the Canadian government will continue to support First Nations build and renovating community housing.

Vandal stated in the press release that first Nations’ housing problems require a unique plan to solve rather than a “one-size-fits-all” solution and looks forward to seeing the community’s housing needs met by the program.

“Everyone deserves a safe and affordable place to call home, no matter where they live. Northern and Indigenous partners have the local knowledge and expertise to implement housing plans that work for them. This federal government will not impose a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach because we know that does not work. We are proud to partner with the Dene Nation for this pilot program. Through continued collaboration, communities are creating and implementing new housing solutions that meet their needs,” Vandal expressed.

In particular, the Government of Canada allocated $200,000 per year for three years to Dene Nation to create a housing and infrastructure secretariat to help the people of Dene coordinate special housing programs and secure federal housing funding. The Canadian government has also provided $135,000 for the Kat ł’odeeche First Nation modular unit as part of Dene Nation’s Strategic Housing Plan.

Chief Gerald Antoine also expressed hope for implementing the program and its vital role for the Dene Nation.

“Our home, on the land, has always been the foundation that enriches the quality of our way of life. The Dene Nation acknowledges that there are many areas in housing that require our immediate attention. Through the support of the Housing Secretariat project, we look forward to seeking meaningful engagements with the many levels of government involved in the housing crisis in Denendeh. This must be done in alignment with the needs and values of our leadership and our Dene families,” Chief Antoine stated.

The Dene Nation’s Strategic Housing Plan is a great start to improving the Housing needs of First Nations in the remote north. However, according to the Bureau of Statistics for the Northwest Territories, 51% of people in Yellowknife experience chronic homelessness, and 94% report a need for permanent housing.

Dene Nation’s Strategic Housing Plan increases the ease with which people in the Northwest can report issues. However, the federal government still has a long way to support housing problems in the Northwest financially. At the same time, to improve the quality of life of all the First Nations, the housing, transportation, and living problems of the other First Nations should also receive attention and support from the Canadian government.