'Brain trust' to focus on Indigenous peoples' housing, social needs

'Brain trust' to focus on Indigenous peoples' housing, social needs

The federal government has announced the launch of a pioneering think-tank aimed at formulating effective, long-ranging solutions that can best respond to Canada’s Indigenous social and housing needs.

Earlier this week, Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller hailed 24 Indigenous innovators as the latest additions to the “Accelerator” period of Indigenous Homes Innovation Initiative, which is intended to develop these ground-breaking ideas.

“The Accelerator will provide the innovators with mentoring support from Indigenous architects and other professionals to refine their ideas into implementable projects,” the announcement noted.

Said Accelerator period is estimated to take up to 18 months.

“Innovators that complete the Accelerator period and successfully demonstrate that their proposal is ready for implementation will receive implementation funding. Lessons learned from the Accelerator will also provide useful information for Indigenous communities toward addressing their housing needs.”

The venture is an unprecedented opportunity to solve the “unique geographic and distinction-based challenges” that reserves face, according to Indigenous Steering Committee co-chairs Pamela Glode-Desrochers and Will Goodon.

“In choosing the 24 innovators for the Accelerator period, the Steering Committee sought to ensure First Nations, Inuit, Métis Nation and urban communities would benefit from new ways that respond to Indigenous social and housing realities.”

A late October study by the United Nations deemed current housing conditions for Indigenous peoples unacceptable, particularly in Canada, Australia, and Tanzania.

The report stressed that Indigenous peoples in these nations suffer greatly, amid variegated pressures brought about by poverty, exploitation, and lack of housing access.

“The Special Rapporteur finds that housing conditions for Indigenous peoples around the world are overwhelmingly abhorrent and too often violate the right to adequate housing,” the report noted, as quoted by Global News.

“[As] a result, they have disproportionately high rates of homelessness and they are extremely vulnerable to forced evictions, land-grabbing and the effects of climate change.”