The supply of culturally designed on- and off-reserve housing for Indigenous peoples in Canada is limited. Indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse people in particular experience higher rates of homelessness, poverty and gendered violence. They need culturally appropriate housing and alternative models to housing ownership and construction that embrace traditional knowledge systems. This research project will explore the design and construction of 5distinct types of houses in Northern Ontario, each built with a different local material: timber, cordwood, straw bale, stone or log. The aim is to develop a comprehensive framework for local housing solutions that effectively address the barriers related to housing materials, resources and capacity.
3 Key Goals
Explore different housing designs with a focus on the needs of Indigenous women, girls, two-spirit, and gender-diverse people.
Address their needs especially in the areas of health, safety, and well-being.
Explore the use of local material in 5 different regions selected for this project.
Project scope and expected outcomes
Rethinking housing for Indigenous communities
According to Statistics Canada, 1 in 5 Indigenous people live in a dwelling that needs significant repairs. Indigenous Clean Energy says that 65% of homes in First Nations and Métis communities require major energy efficiency retrofits. Existing housing options are not designed to meet the cultural needs of Indigenous peoples, are often overcrowded and do not account for intergenerational living. Housing development and designs do not usually consider the geography and climate of First Nation communities in different regions. There is a clear need for culturally appropriate housing as well as alternative models to housing ownership and construction.
This research project aims to rethink housing to better meet the needs of Indigenous communities and provide homes that are culturally appropriate. It will explore on- and off-reserve housing, taking into account the health, safety and well-being of Indigenous women, girls, two-spirit and gender-diverse people. It will address the housing issues that Indigenous communities face and ensure that Indigenous women have a voice in the design, construction, maintenance and ownership of homes.
Researchers will gather information through literature reviews and in-person and individual interviews with Indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse people who live on or off the reserve. The project will explore the design and construction of 5 types of houses in northern regions, each built with a different local material:
- straw bale
A study will:
- compare the differences in costs and durability
- evaluate the cultural connection
- gauge the desire for this type of housing over conventional housing
This project will also identify local resources and supply chains to understand which industries and building materials exist or don’t exist in the identified communities.
Guiding alternative housing options
The research will provide a deeper understanding of culturally appropriate housing needs and designs for Indigenous communities in Northern Ontario. It will also show the local housing landscape and resource gaps that exist and need to be addressed. The results will help develop housing solutions specific to a community and region, with sustainable housing that meets the cultural realities and needs of Indigenous communities.
See more examples of projects funded through the National Housing Strategy Research and Planning Fund.
Activity Stream: Program of Research
Title of the Research: How an Indigenous lens and local materials can improve housing
Lead Applicant: Temiskaming Native Women's Support Group
Project Collaborators / Partners:
- Women's National Housing and Homelessness Network
Get More Information:
Contact CMHC at RPF-FRP@cmhc-schl.gc.ca or visit the Research and Planning Fund webpage.
Search CMHC’s Housing Knowledge Centre for more information and updates about this research project.