About the Indigenous Caucus
The Indigenous Housing Caucus was established in 2013 at our annual Congress on Housing and Homelessness to recognize the large number of Indigenous-led and Indigenous-serving organizations who are members and wanted to work together for better housing for northern, rural, and urban First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Peoples. Indigenous housing and homelessness service providers across the country face several challenges to which the Indigenous Caucus is responding to with resourcefulness, good management, and innovation.
Indigenous Caucus Day
Since 2013, the Indigenous Caucus has grown both in size and influence, becoming a credible body for developing and providing Indigenous policy advice on housing and homelessness. The Indigenous Housing Caucus meets together in person once a year at the Indigenous Housing Caucus Day which takes place in conjunction with the National Congress on Housing and Homelessness. It is a full-day collaborative forum attended by over 200 delegates from across Canada, ranging from urban and regional non-profit Indigenous housing corporations, local homelessness service providers and regional homelessness coordinators, representatives of all orders of government, and private sector actors in academia and business.
The Working Group
Throughout the year, the interests, feedback, advice, and recommendations communicated on Caucus Day is represented and actioned by CHRA's Indigenous Housing Caucus Working Group. The Working Group meets regularly via monthly conference calls to advise and provide Indigenous perspectives on emerging national housing and homelessness issues to CHRA, as well as provide advocacy support and propose research projects exploring various facets of Indigenous housing and homelessness issues.
The Working Group is composed of CHRA members from across the country with an expertise and understanding of Indigenous housing, including tenant support, building operations, cultural issues, and homelessness.
Working Group Members
- Justin Marchand, Chair of the Indigenous Caucus and Indigenous Communities Representative on the CHRA Board of Directors, and CEO of Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services
- Tim Crooks, CHRA Board President, and Executive Director, Phoenix Youth Services
- Robert Byers, Chief Executive Officer, Namerind Housing
- Patsy Kuksuk, Executive Director of Programs, Nunavut Housing Corporation
- Margaret Pfoh, CHRA Regional Director for BC, and CEO of Aboriginal Housing Management Association
- Richard George, President, Vancouver Native Housing Society
- Susan McGee, CHRA Regional Director for Alberta, and CEO of Homeward Trust Edmonton
- Christin Swim, General Manager, Skigin-Elnoog Housing Corporation
- Tanya Powell, Housing First Coordinator, Elbert Chartrand Friendship Centre
- Phil Brown, former CHRA Board President
- Shaun Simms, CHRA Board Member at-Large, Vice-President of People and Culture, Ottawa Community Housing
- Louise Atkins, former volunteer CHRA Indigenous Caucus Coordinator
The Indigenous Caucus Working Group is supported by CHRA staff Kimberley Brown, Director, Indigenous Caucus and Ray Sullivan, Interim Executive Director.
For Indigenous By Indigenous: The National Urban, Rural, and Northern Indigenous Housing Coalition Declaration
A landmark Indigenous housing alliance has been officially created, and we invite you to join us!
Indigenous housing providers and leaders attended the National Urban, Rural, and Northern Indigenous Housing Stakeholder Gathering on November 25, 2022, in Vancouver, BC and online to form a National Urban, Rural, Northern Indigenous Housing Coalition. This marks a significant advancement toward self-determination and the creation of a nation urban, rural, and northern Indigenous housing strategy, created by and delivered by Indigenous peoples.
Previously, Indigenous friendship societies, housing associations and corporations served their local and provincial communities but there hasn’t been a common Indigenous voice nationally and only BC and Ontario have provincial representation. Now, members will contribute collectively across all regions and territories. Together we have the experience and expertise to create and deliver an URN Indigenous housing strategy – now we also have the coalition in place to get it done.
The Indigenous Caucus at CHRA organized and supported the Gathering and will continue to support the coalition.
If you would like to receive periodic updates on CHRA and the Indigenous Caucus' activities and initiatives, subscribe to the Caucus newsletter below.
Terms of Reference
The Terms of Reference for the Indigenous Caucus were updated in September of 2019. They set out the responsibilities of the Caucus, when meetings occur, membership, as well as the roles and responsibilities of the Working Group which leads the operational affairs of the Caucus. Click to review the Terms of Reference.
Statement of Cultural Principles
CHRA and the CHRA Indigenous Caucus share its Statement on Reconciliation and Cultural Principles to demonstrate that our commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples across the country. This is a continued learning process and CHRA will continue to engage with members to ensure their needs are met. Click to review the Statement.
Advocacy and Research
AN URBAN, RURAL AND NORTHERN INDIGENOUS HOUSING STRATEGY
Submission of a brief to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs
In March 2022, the CHRA Indigenous Caucus submitted a brief to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs that outlines the unique challenges faced by urban, rural, and northern Indigenous housing providers and calls on the government to implement a co-developed and Funded Urban, Rural, and Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy.
2020 Urban, Rural and Northern Indigenous Housing Report
In late 2018, the CHRA Indigenous Caucus commissioned a report and survey that looks at the state of urban, rural and northern Indigenous housing in Canada, and provides recommendations on a path forward to improve its state. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and Indigenous Services Canada provided funding to undertake the work and hired Daniel Brant and Catherine Irwin-Gibson to produce the report overseen by the CHRA Indigenous Caucus Working Group. The report stresses that urban, rural and northern Indigenous housing is facing dramatic challenges in the face of ongoing demand and pressures, but the report also identifies solutions and ways to address these challenges.
The For Indigenous By Indigenous Advocacy Campaign
In late October, the Indigenous Caucus launched its "For Indigenous, By Indigenous" (FIBI) advocacy campaign. The campaign's focus was to raise awareness of the lack of an urban, rural, and northern Indigenous housing policy that was not included in the National Housing Strategy. By the end of 2020, over 10,000 letters had been sent to MPs expressing support for such a strategy! The Indigenous Caucus also initiated a petition which had over 500 signatures.
2018 FIBI Proposal
In June 2018 CHRA and CHRA's Indigenous Housing Caucus Working Group released a proposal for a "For Indigenous, By Indigenous National Housing Strategy" calling on the government to address the housing needs of urban, rural and northern Indigenous families and individuals, including the disproportionate representation of Indigenous Peoples living in homelessness and core housing.
The federal National Housing Strategy unveiled in November 2017 committed to working toward co-developing three distinctions-based First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation housing strategies. However, the Government of Canada's distinctions-based approach risks creating a large service gap for the 87 per cent of Indigenous Peoples not living on reserve lands, but in the urban, rural and northern parts of Canada. To eliminate the service gap, the paper asserts that the federal government must acknowledge and fund a fourth strategy for Indigenous households in need of housing in urban, rural and northern areas.
2017 Policy Paper
The "For Indigenous, By Indigenous" Strategy is the culmination of a two-year process involving the Indigenous Caucus. CHRA and the Indigenous Caucus' first iteration of a strategy to bring forward the housing needs of urban and rural Indigenous peoples began at Indigenous Housing Caucus Day in 2016 and 2017. Following discussions and deliberations, as well as a broader research document, CHRA used the input gathered from Caucus Day delegates to develop a series of recommendations for a distinct urban and rural Indigenous housing strategy. The Indigenous Caucus submitted the policy paper containing recommendations to the Government of Canada in June 2017, which was widely shared and distributed to politicians and senior decision makers.
Resolution to Support an Urban, Rural and Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy
During CHRA's Annual General Meeting in April 2018, members passed a strongly worded resolution supporting the development of an urban, rural, northern and metropolitan Indigenous Housing Strategy. It calls on the Government of Canada to develop a strategy that would set forth an objective of raising the standard of Indigenous housing to that of non-Indigenous Canadians within the next 10 years.
Signatories to this declaration are resolved to:
- Campaign - within Canadian society generally, and to the Government of Canada specifically - to adhere to the concept that the only acceptable outcome of the National Housing Strategy regarding Indigenous Peoples is to bring their housing standard to that of non-Indigenous Canadians within the next 10 years;
- Call on the Government of Canada to commit the necessary resources to achieve this goal; and,
- Call on the Government of Canada to develop a fourth Indigenous Housing Strategy to acknowledge, respect and address the housing needs of Indigenous households living in the urban, rural, and northern areas of Canada.
This Resolution is endorsed by the following individuals and organisations:
BC Non-Profit Housing Association
Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation
Ganawageh and Ohsto: Seri Urban Homes Inc.
M'akola Housing Society
Manitoba Non-Profit Housing Association
We encourage members and other organizations to officially endorse this Resolution. Add your support to the growing list. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
CAUCUS DAY SUMMARY REPORTS
Other Research Papers
Policy Options Paper for an Urban and Rural Indigenous Housing Strategy
published by Cassandra Vink, with assistance from Steve Pomeroy and Jodi Ball