Two First Nation groups in the Kootenays will receive financial support to reduce poverty levels and improve quality of life. The B.C. government has provided $2.7 million in grants to 62 First Nation communities.
The grant comes from the province’s First Nation Well Being Fund, which aims to improve physical and mental health, better the quality of life for members living on or off the reserve, as well as reduce poverty levels. The Fund is managed by the First Nations Public Service Secretariat, which partnered with the First Nations Leadership Council for the cause.
“Numerous studies have shown that Indigenous people experience the highest levels of poverty, with a shocking 25 per cent of Indigenous people in Canada living in poverty,” said Cheryl Casimer in a province-wide news release. Casimer is a political executive for the First Nations Summit.
–a“am (St. Mary’s First Nation) is projected to receive $34,452 to maintain and flourish their culture while reducing poverty struggles. It will be used to “deliver land-based training trips to teach traditional hunting, harvesting, fishing and canning methods, and update the community Strategic Plan.” Ya“it –a·knuq‡i’I (Tobacco Plains Indian Band) will receive $35,000 for food security plans, such as the creation of a hide-preparation area, as well as a community kitchen and meat freezer. An additional $25,000 will be granted for health and wellness workshops, and the creation of a community well-being plan.
“This poverty reduction initiative was created to assist B.C. First Nations to increase well-being within their communities and membership. This welcome program is a modest step toward addressing the disproportionally high rates of poverty for First Nations citizens in B.C.,” says Casimer. “The program was very oversubscribed, which clearly shows there is a high demand for much-needed funding for these types of important community projects. We hope that the success of this initiative will lead to greater poverty reduction funding opportunities for our communities in the future.”
Funding granted must be used by the Bands by July 31, 2023.
Haley Grinder, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer