Delegates Discuss First Nations Housing Options

Thursday, April 12, 2007 at 14:43



The Prince Albert Grand Council is hosting a housing conference and trade show this week.


Well over 100 delegates are taking part, and organizers say many more could arrive before the event wraps up tomorrow.


Spokesman Vince Generaux says many different issues are being discussed — including training opportunities for housing inspectors, better building practices, and how to set up effective housing policies.


He says some band workers are also getting the chance to learn about ways they can increase the efficiency of homes already built.


Another issue being addressed is how bands in third-party management can get housing development going on their reserve.


Generaux says some First Nations in that situation haven’t been able to build any homes for the past 8 to 10 years.


One of the guest speakers at the conference is Earl Commanda, the national director of housing for the Assembly of First Nations.


Commanda says the need for houses on Canadian reserves is significant, but the Prairie provinces need it the most.


He says the country currently has about 97,000 homes on reserves.


The AFN estimates this amount is between 80,000 and 90,000 homes short of what’s required — and only about 2,300 are being built each year.


Commanda says the situation has become this bad partly because Ottawa’s funding levels haven’t kept pace with the surge in population and inflation over the past 20 years.


His main message to those gathered is that First Nations must turn to the business and corporate community, through partnerships, to help make up for Ottawa’s shortfall in funding.