Surrey has the largest and fastest growing urban Indigenous population in B.C. This population is young and predominantly composed of young families with children. Surrey's housing stock, however, is inadequate to meet this growing urban Indigenous population. This leaves Indigenous families, children and youth with an immediate and significant need for suitable housing.
The Skookum Lab will perform an in-depth analysis and examination of the housing issues affecting Surrey’s Indigenous families and children. It will look into their specific needs and develop potential solutions that are appropriate to urban Indigenous residents. It also will ensure that Indigenous perspectives and ways of knowing are implemented throughout the Lab’s design and research.
3 Key Goals
Perform an in-depth analysis and examination of housing issues affecting Indigenous families and children.
Ensure that Indigenous perspectives and ways of knowing are incorporated into the Lab’s design, research and potential solutions.
Create partnerships that apply similar methods and solutions to address the needs of urban Indigenous populations in other communities.
Project scope and expected outcomes
The Skookum Lab builds on work by the Surrey Urban Indigenous Leadership Committee and an ongoing social innovation lab. In particular, it expands on the finding that housing is a key determinant for understanding Indigenous child poverty. Housing instability has cascading effects on children, affecting their social and emotional wellbeing, access to education and family stability. Currently, 37% of Indigenous children in Surrey are living in poverty.
The Lab and the ongoing social innovation lab have already identified several key housing problems. These include a lack of suitable affordable housing, insecurity of tenure, and racism and discrimination faced by Indigenous families. Populations in Surrey also have very low access to subsidized housing. Effective housing solutions will need to be creative and include public and private sector partners.
Indigenous driven and Indigenous led
The Skookum Lab is one of the first social innovation labs in Canada that is Indigenous led, designed and implemented. It will focus on Indigenous worldviews as its foundation and guiding principles, ensuring they inform its design, action and solutions. Its approach will echo the successful methods established in the ongoing Skookum social innovation lab.
The Lab will take place over 4 phases:
- Phase 1 (Understand) will focus on describing and assessing the problem. A governance structure and critical path will be created with the Lab’s established partners. Key informant interviews will ensure the problem is framed in a clear and understandable way.
- Phase 2 (Define) will involve a deep dive into the issue using a range of innovative methods. The Lab will listen to different perspectives through approaches such as guide groups, focus groups and art methods. It will work with systems entrepreneurs that specialize in changing entire ecosystems. It also will engage with experts and the broader community.
- Phase 3 (Dream) will focus on imagining and co-designing innovative solutions. Partners will be asked what they would do differently, and criteria and parameters for successful Indigenous prototypes will be created. These will have the potential to shift the systems that sustain Indigenous housing instability and insecurity.
- Phase 4 (Design/Test) will combine the testing and delivery of systems with a roadmap for moving forward. Products will be created that clearly express what the community said. These criteria will be used to test solutions that meet the culturally specific needs of urban Indigenous families in Surrey. Solutions will be tangible and replicable, and they will be tested and refined with partners to assess their long-term feasibility.
Campfires and guide groups will be included in every phase of the project. Campfires involve bringing together systems entrepreneurs and people with lived experience in informal settings for relationship-building and focused work. Guide groups include bringing together Elders, youth, caregivers and support workers to guide the Skookum Lab process. This builds collective and deeper understanding of the root causes of an issue, allowing participants to learn and share experiences.
Committed to communication
The Lab is committed to communicating during the project and sharing its results when it is complete. It will use its established partnerships to ensure communication happens on a broad scale. Guide groups and campfire sessions will help project partners collaborate regularly. A knowledge mobilization strategy will reach target audiences through workshops, reports, peer-reviewed publications and public outreach.
The Lab will document how its Indigenous methods could enrich social innovation theory. It also will outline how social innovation practice could address difficult and changing social policy issues within Indigenous communities.
Project Team: City of Surrey (Surrey Urban Indigenous Leadership Committee)
Location: Surrey, B.C.
Project Collaborators / Partners:
- City of Surrey
- The Vancouver Foundation
- Vancity Community Foundation
- Indigenous Services Canada
Solutions Lab Consultant:
- Kiri Bird (Radius SFU)
Get More Information:
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website to learn more about the initiatives under the National Housing Strategy.
Search CMHC’s Housing Knowledge Centre for more information and updates about this research project.