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visioning our future dwelling together

The Lab’s primary focus on on-reserve First Nation’s housing in Northern Ontario uncovers community-driven solutions to the ongoing inequitable outcomes experiences as a result of ongoing colonial intervention. Through workshops and sharing circles Visioning Our Future Dwelling Together examines cultural perceptions of space and form. Questioning the appropriateness of the near-ubiquitous suburban, grid-style housing found in the region, community members are given the opportunity to vision alternative models, and discuss the importance of design in supporting community wellness. Creating community specific housing designs which appropriately meet the needs of members, breaks historical standardization and focuses on community knowledge.

Housing as it currently exists

on-reserve in the mid-Canada corridor symbolizes planning’s complicity in a colonial political regime.

The mid-Canada corridor, an east-to-west band across many provinces and territories has been loosely defined by the limits of the boreal forest. A culturally diverse area, the mid-Canada corridor is most commonly associated with its natural resources.

Eabametoong First Nation

A Brief History of On-Reserve Housing

+ The Crash Housing Program of the mid-1960s brought southern-based Canadian design and suburban housing models to First Nations in the mid-Canada corridor, resulting in a loss of local and culturally-specific housing designs 

+ The houses built were often inadequate, exacerbating health and social inequities due to poor construction and inappropriate building material, size, inadequate sanitation and heating

+ 1996 On-Reserve Housing Policy downloaded control of housing but, was not accompanied by the requisite resources to develop the capacity or plans required to create localized housing systems, thus undercutting any chance the policy may have had at success

+ The Federal government has recognized the failure of its housing policy for Indigenous peoples for decades  (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 1990; Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, 1996; Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, 2015)

+ In Budget 2018, the federal government outlined funding for distinction based housing strategies for Inuit, Métis and First Nations; however, it is unclear how and when these plans will move forward

Centering Indigenous knowledge in the planning process can create a housing system supportive of cultural regeneration and increased community wellness.

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