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FSIN Vice-Chief Kim Jonathan has been named as the newest board member of Habitat for Humanity Canada. She’s the first Indigenous person to be named to the national housing association’s board of directors.

Jonathan went through a rigorous vetting process to earn the appointment, including a screening, an interview, and submitting an essay outlining why housing is a priority to her on a personal level.

She was then selected from a shortlist of candidates and approved for the position at the organization’s general assembly in Kelowna, B.C. this weekend.

“At our initial board meeting, we discussed housing for First Nations people and identified it as a necessary first priority,” she said in a prepared release. “Now we need to see this strategy pushed into action.”

Habitat for Humanity alone is not the solution to the First Nations housing crisis, but it can help provide relief to some First Nations families living in overcrowded or inadequate housing, says Vice-Chief Jonathan.

“We will continue to fight for the treaty right to shelter, but the deplorable condition of First Nation housing calls on us to find partners at all levels,” she said. “Having a safe and decent place to call home is a basic human right and the foundation of a healthy family and healthy community.”

Last year, Habitat for Humanity completed its first on-reserve build on Flying Dust First Nation, initiated by FSIN Vice-Chief Robert Merasty, during his tenure as chief of Flying Dust. With the help of community volunteers, Habitat built a ten-unit elders lodge. The houses vacated by those elders made room for younger families.

FSIN housing portfolio holder, Vice-Chief Dutch Lerat hopes to see on-reserve housing further developed as a priority for the charitable organization.

“Projects like the elders lodge in Flying Dust show the impact Habitat can have when it partners with First Nations, and now they have a strong advocate at the board level,” said Vice-Chief Lerat.