Affordable, accessible housing is a key need for Indigenous families in Temiskaming and Cochrane districts in Northern Ontario. Many regularly face poverty and homelessness, and Indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse peoples experience disproportionate rates of gendered violence. The region’s elders and matriarchs have consistently expressed a desire for Indigenous women-led and women-involved housing. These models would help support vulnerable populations, as well as promote land reclamation and Indigenous independence.
The Temiskaming District Community Land Trust project will create an Indigenous women-led land trust within the Districts of Temiskaming and Cochrane. This community land trust (CLT) will be a local, grassroots solution for creating affordable housing for Indigenous Peoples in Northern Ontario. The affordable housing created will be Indigenous-led, Indigenous-owned and Indigenous-designed. It will also be safe, secure and culturally-appropriate.
3 Key Innovations
The CLT’s membership will primarily consist of First Nations, Inuit and Métis women and gender-diverse people in the region.
The CLT will hold and collectively govern land for Indigenous women-led housing solutions within the Districts of Temiskaming and Cochrane.
The CLT will be a tool to support land reclamation and Indigenous ownership, and to address homelessness in Northern Ontario.
Project scope and expected outcomes
Supporting and enabling Indigenous women-led and women-built community land trust solutions for affordable housing
This project will develop an Indigenous women-led community land trust (CLT) within the District of Temiskaming and District of Cochrane. CLTs are non-profit corporations created to acquire and hold land for a community. The land is perpetually held in trust to help provide access for community use, such as affordable housing. CLTs are membership-based organizations, governed by an elected board of directors, and often made of community members and non-profit organizations.
The project’s proposed CLT will enable Indigenous women and gender-diverse people to own, design and build their own housing. This will make it easier to use different, culturally appropriate ways of creating safe and affordable housing for those groups. It will also make it possible to build Indigenous ways into the governance of the CLT.
Demonstrating the ways that a community land trust can benefit Indigenous women and families
With support from the NHS Demonstrations Initiative, the project will focus on setting up a governance model for the CLT. That model will be designed by and include First Nations and Métis communities/governments. This includes extensive community engagement on the CLT’s potential role in holding land for the community. The project will also demonstrate how the CLT will service self-determination goals for Indigenous women and families in the region.
The project team is currently planning and designing Indigenous women-led housing projects. The CLT established during this project will help coordinate and undertake land acquisition for those projects.
Using the Two-Eyed Seeing approach to establish policies, committees, boards and bylaws
The project will use the Two-Eyed Seeing approach when establishing all policies, committees, boards and bylaws. This involves centering the work in Indigenous ways of knowing while respecting Western frameworks. For instance, Elders from partner organizations will form a Wisdom Keepers Council to guide the CLT Board and all operations. This will enable them to provide knowledge and guidance, and to ensure processes use Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing.
Once the CLT has been established, it hopes to develop an economic development arm. This will provide training and workshops on land trust assembly and lessons learned. Other possibilities involve leasing land held by the CLT to non-Indigenous-led affordable housing projects. The final financing model will be subject to consultations and decisions made by the membership, board and Wisdom Keepers Council.
The CLT’s membership will primarily consist of First Nations, Inuit and Métis women and gender-diverse people in the region. The CLT will focus on keeping women and gender-diverse people in key positions and the membership majority at all times.
Helping to build affordable and community-led housing projects in Indigenous communities across Northern Ontario
The project’s innovative model of Indigenous land governance within off-reserve settings will have impacts in Northern Ontario and across Canada. It will help build capacity for owning and managing land trusts among the region’s Indigenous women and gender-diverse people. This will ultimately help build affordable and community-led housing projects in Indigenous communities across Northern Ontario.
The project also provides a model to other jurisdictions and regions across Canada. It will create a roadmap and framework for implementing similar Indigenous-governed land trusts. These could help interested groups replicate this project within their local region and communities.
Program: NHS Demonstrations Initiative
Demonstration Title: Temiskaming District Community Land Trust
Lead organization: Keepers of the Circle
Collaborators and Partners:
- Global Indigenous Development Trust
- UBC Housing Research Collaborative
- Aboriginal People’s Alliance (Northern Ontario)
- Beaverhouse First Nation
- Women's National Housing and Homelessness Network
- District of Muskoka (Ontario)
Location: Timiskaming District (Ontario)
Get more information:
Email Innovation-Research@cmhc.ca or visit our website to learn more about the initiatives under the National Housing Strategy.
Interested to learn more about community land trust solutions for affordable housing? Join the Expert Community on Housing (ECOH) CLT/Land assembly virtual community of practice!