2024 Indigenous History Month blog_header

Reflections on National Indigenous History Month

20 Jun 2024

Vena Beckford, Director of Indigenous Housing Policy and Programs


Indigenous History Month in Canada is a time to celebrate and honor the diverse cultures, traditions, and contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. It is a period for all Canadians to deepen their understanding of Indigenous histories, which have too often been marginalized, misrepresented, or ignored. This month is an opportunity to recognize the resilience, strength, and rich heritage of Indigenous communities that have significantly shaped the nation's identity.

However, while Indigenous History Month is a time of celebration, it also brings to light the ongoing struggles and injustices faced by Indigenous communities, particularly in the realm of housing. Despite countless promises and initiatives from the federal government, many Indigenous people continue to live in substandard conditions, grappling with overcrowded homes, lack of clean water, inadequate access to essential services, and unsafe living environments. These housing conditions are a stark reminder of the historical and systemic barriers that have perpetuated these disparities.

Housing is not merely a privilege but a fundamental human right. Access to safe, affordable, and dignified housing is essential for the health, well-being, and prosperity of individuals and communities. Yet, the current state of housing in many Indigenous communities is a national crisis that demands urgent and sustained action. The legacy of colonialism, residential schools, and discriminatory policies has left a lasting impact on Indigenous housing, leading to chronic underfunding and neglect.

It is crucial that the government not only acknowledges these historical injustices but also takes concrete steps to address them. This means committing to long-term, sustainable, and community-driven solutions that empower Indigenous communities to lead their own housing initiatives. It involves ensuring adequate funding, resources, and support for building and maintaining homes that meet the needs and cultural values of Indigenous peoples. Moreover, it requires a genuine partnership with Indigenous leaders and organizations, respecting their sovereignty and right to self-determination.

The Indigenous Caucus was established at the 2013 CHRA Congress to recognize the large number of Indigenous-led and Indigenous-serving organizations that wanted to work together to create solutions to the unique housing challenges faced by urban, rural, and northern (URN) First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Peoples. This work is steered by the Caucus Working Group.

The Indigenous Caucus and CHRA have worked in partnership to advocate for an URN Indigenous housing strategy for several years, coining the term “For Indigenous, By Indigenous”. Federal budgets 2022 and 2023 committed to $4.3 billion to co-develop and implement an URN strategy. We continue to advocate for the amount needed to fully realize a sustainable URN strategy.

The Indigenous Caucus also facilitated the creation of the National Indigenous Housing Collaborative Inc. (NICHI) in 2023, which is leading and facilitating change for Indigenous housing providers across the country.

The Caucus and CHRA continue to collaborate on advocacy to ensure that the federal government invests continuously in housing for Indigenous peoples living in urban, rural, and northern areas beyond the $4.3 billion invested in Budgets 2022 and 2023. It is imperative that an Indigenous-led URN strategy receive funding on an ongoing basis.

This Indigenous History Month, let us honor our past by actively working towards a future where housing equity is a reality for all Indigenous communities. By addressing the root causes of housing inequities and committing to meaningful change, we can help ensure that every Indigenous person has the opportunity to live in a home that is safe, affordable, and reflective of their cultural heritage. Let this month serve as a call to action for all Canadians to stand in solidarity with Indigenous communities and advocate for the housing justice they rightfully deserve.


Want more information about the Indigenous Caucus and how you can support Indigenous Housing in Canada? Contact CHRA’s Director of Indigenous Housing Policy and Programs, Vena Beckford.