First Nations Housing: A National Crisis

First Nations communities throughout Canada are facing a housing crisis. Poorly constructed, inefficient homes with mold, pollution, inadequate services and other significant issues are commonplace, with homes often not meeting applicable building codes. Inadequate funding and inspections often lead to builders cutting corners and building substandard homes. This situation is exacerbated in remote communities where labour and transport costs are significantly higher than in urban settings. 

Kitkatla, B.C. | Image credit: lonniewishart.com

The housing crisis in Attawapiskat in 2011 brought national attention to the state of First Nations housing, but the problem is longstanding. A CMHC report from 2011 found that approximately one-half of all housing in First Nations communities was neither adequate nor suitable for the residents. The situation has only deteriorated since then. In April 2016, 11 people attempted to commit suicide in this community due to poor living conditions and the community has declared a state of emergency to prevent deaths among young people.

With current design and building technology and techniques, addressing First Nations housing needs across Canada will cost billions of dollars and take decades of construction.