Indigenous Nations across Canada face serious housing challenges, including overcrowding and poor building practices. Western planning and management have dominated the development of housing for Indigenous Nations for decades. This has contributed to culturally inappropriate housing conditions, and the perpetuation of poverty and dependence in the Indian reserve system.
The IISAAK OLAM Foundation’s Indigenous Housing Solutions Lab will pursue a collaborative design process that combines Indigenous and Western perspectives. Indigenous cultural context and knowledge will work in parallel with Western approaches to develop innovative on- and off-reserve housing solutions. The result will be an innovative, inclusive view for community housing and how it can improve Indigenous socio-economic conditions.
Key Findings / Key Goals
Present a vision of how community housing and housing innovation can support Indigenous culture, health and well-being.
Advance greater autonomy and responsibility for housing by Indigenous Peoples, Nations, organizations and communities.
Share lessons learned from the Lab through a community of practice of five First Nations in British Columbia.
Project scope and expected outcomes
Culturally sensitive housing solutions
Healthy, sustainable housing is a critical social determinant of health and well-being. Indigenous communities, however, are some of the most vulnerable in Canada. On-reserve household incomes and living standards are far below national averages, and homelessness and mental health issues disproportionately impact members. Culturally sensitive housing solutions that promote health, cultural well-being and economic renewal can help address these issues in Indigenous communities.
Ethical space and two-eyed seeing
The Solutions Lab will draw on several different methods, including human-centred design, systems thinking and practice, and adaptive learning. It will also use ethical space and two-eyed seeing methodologies, drawing equally on both Indigenous and Western knowledge and culture.
The Lab will be conducted over 5 phases:
- The Definition Phase develops the Lab’s leadership team, shared agreements, and process and structures. It includes actor mapping, meetings with Indigenous Elders, development of Indigenous practices and additional research.
- The Discovery Phase involves research and community engagement. Lab participants will come together to explore research and engagement findings, and to share their perspectives. Activities will build empathy and a deeper understanding of the housing system among participants.
- The Development Phase will have Lab participants imagine how healthy, affordable housing might look in the community. Elders and youth will be engaged in this process. Participants will learn about best practice examples and will identify leverage points that can promote change. Solutions will be identified and Prototype Teams will be formed.
- The Delivery and Prototyping Phase will design and test solutions. These could include solutions for housing design or for areas like governance, capacity and rental policies. Prototype Teams will implement the tests across different iterations. The results and Lab Team recommendations will be documented.
- The Roadmap Phase involves the Prototype Teams presenting their findings to Lab participants. They will identify implications together for moving the community forward. The roadmap then will be shared with the larger community and finalized based on community input.
Evaluating the Lab process and impacts
The Lab Team will convene after the Roadmap Phase to evaluate the Lab process and impacts. They will help create knowledge products related to the Lab and share them widely. The Lab will also focus on strengthening its community of practice, widening its network and building capacity with local leadership. Finally, a course on culturally grounded housing design will be developed.
Project Team: IISAAK OLAM Foundation
Location: Victoria, British Columbia
Clean Tech Community Gateway
RJC + MITACS + University of Victoria
Dr. Phalguni Mukhopadhyaya and Dr. Ralph Evins, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Victoria
Ready to Shift and Scale
Tseycum First Nation
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