A group that oversees Indigenous housing and service providers in B.C. is calling on the federal government to fund its new housing strategy, saying there is a need for more than 20,000 units of Indigenous housing over the next 10 years.
Earlier this year, the Aboriginal Housing Management Association, which consists of 55 Indigenous housing and service providers across the province, released a report detailing a strategy to build and repair housing for Indigenous people in B.C.
CEO Margaret Pfoh says the association's plan would ensure the housing that is built is culturally appropriate with places for ceremony and room for everyone.
"We live together, we stay together, we support each other and so the housing needs to recognize the value of extended family," she said Friday at an event in Langford, on southern Vancouver Island.
The plan would cost $7.3 billion to implement. Pfoh says the strategy was created for Indigenous people by Indigenous people.
"We can't continue to rely on the colonial constructs of the Canadian government or the provincial government to create a strategy for Indigenous people because they are not Indigenous people and so our communities asked us to create a strategy that was driven by them and for them," she said.
Jill Atkey, CEO of the B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association, voiced support for the strategy, saying data has long shown that Indigenous people experience homelessness and precarious housing at disproportionate rates.
"The plan is here, the partners are here, and the time is right," she said.
Friday's event in support for more Indigenous housing took place at a Langford property operated by the M'akola Housing Society, which houses 100 Indigenous families.
Pfoh said the work by the M'akola Housing Society highlights the value of Indigenous-led housing initiatives and the need for more funding.
"We need government and community to understand it's not a handout," she said.
"It's about recognizing we already have the expertise and capacity to meet the needs of our community."