Partnering to build Indigenous housing in Calgary
Cross-sector collaboration and local expertise are helping to address the need for more affordable housing for Indigenous seniors.
Once complete, the new $5.7-million Indigenous Elders Lodge in Calgary’s Highland Park community – the first urban Indigenous seniors living facility in Calgary – will provide 12 units of affordable seniors housing. The lodge will feature cultural spaces for residents to practise land-based teachings, hold ceremonies and promote healing. This project creates about 34 jobs and is set to welcome residents in February 2023.
Calgary Skyview MP George Chahal, on behalf of federal Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion and Minister Responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) Ahmed Hussen, and Alberta Seniors and Housing Minister Josephine Pon joined the Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary to celebrate the groundbreaking.
“Supporting Indigenous-led housing projects is a key action under Alberta’s Stronger Foundations affordable housing strategy. The Indigenous Elders Lodge is a great example of how collaboration and local expertise can help ensure we meet the diverse housing needs of Albertans, especially those of Indigenous seniors.”
Josephine Pon, Minister of Seniors and Housing
“Everyone deserves a safe and affordable place to call home. That’s why we’re supporting the creation of new homes for the first-ever urban Indigenous seniors living facility in Calgary. Having a home that supports land-based teachings and promotes healing is an important part of our path on reconciliation. Our National Housing Strategy is helping ensure no one is left behind.”
Ahmed Hussen, federal Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, and Minister responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
“This groundbreaking represents a collaborative approach and shows what can be done when governments come together with community organizations to make life better for Indigenous seniors. Everyone deserves a safe and accessible home and this lodge will provide culturally sensitive affordable housing for seniors. This is an important step in working together to achieve reconciliation.”
Rick Wilson, Minister of Indigenous Relations
“I am very excited that today we are breaking ground in our community of Calgary-Klein to start construction on this amazing one-of-a-kind Elders Lodge. The space for cultural practices will help provide a sense of home and community for residents.”
Jeremy Nixon, MLA for Calgary-Klein
“Our government is investing in affordable housing here in Calgary and across Canada to help create jobs and improve the quality of life for those who need it most. Senior citizens have brought so many contributions to our society that making sure that they have a safe and affordable home with culturally appropriate support services is one way to give back to them. Thanks to the tireless community-building efforts of the Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary, these seniors will soon be able stay close to their family and friends, share important cultural knowledge between generations and live with dignity.”
George Chahal, MP for Calgary Skyview
“The groundbreaking for this one-of-a-kind Elders Lodge is a monumental day for Calgary and the Indigenous community. We are pleased the project is proceeding with city support that addresses both culturally appropriate affordable housing and our journey towards reconciliation.”
Jyoti Gondek, mayor, City of Calgary
“Together, we have created a legacy project that could serve as a blueprint for other jurisdictions committed to honouring and caring for Elders as they age. For our community, the Elders Lodge is a sacred, safe space for connection and healing.”
Shane Gauthier, CEO, Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary
“Elders have daily, spiritual and healing practices that most seniors centres do not accommodate. This lodge will give them space for those rituals and teachings, like making smudge.”
Reg Crowshoe, Elder
“When I was looking at the layout of the lodge, I was excited to see open areas for land-based teachings and space for ceremony and cultural activities like beadwork. Through this kind of knowledge sharing, our young people will learn our traditions and carry them on.”
Rose Crowshoe, Elder
In Alberta, the funding is provided through the Indigenous Housing Capital Program (IHCP), which supports Indigenous governments and communities to build affordable off-reserve, off-settlement and on-settlement housing. The program ensures a flexible, autonomous approach and encourages public and private developers to partner with Indigenous governments and organizations. IHCP applications are accepted on a continuous basis and are available at alberta.ca/ihcp. The next quarterly deadline is March 31.
Supporting community-driven projects like the Indigenous Elders Lodge is a key action under Alberta’s Stronger Foundations affordable housing strategy and responds to the recommendations of the 2020 Affordable Housing Review Panel.
Federal funding for the IHCP is provided through the 10-year bilateral housing agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta, announced in spring 2019.
- The Indigenous Elders Lodge is owned and operated by the Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary.
- The total project budget is estimated at $5.7 million, of which the governments of Alberta and Canada jointly provided a $2.3-million capital grant.
- Alberta’s Capital Plan 2021 will invest $30 million in IHCP over three years. Since 2019, Alberta’s government has committed about $26.6 million to seven projects:
- Lethbridge – Blackfoot Family Lodge Society ($3.4 million, 14 units)
- Edmonton – Tribal Chiefs Ventures Inc. ($6 million, 32 units)
- Calgary – Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary ($2.3 million, 12 units)
- Lac Ste. Anne – Lac Ste. Anne Métis Community Association and Communitas Group ($2.6 million, 12 units)
- Victor Lake – Victor Lake Cooperative and The Evergreens Foundation ($2.3 million, 12 units)
- Métis Capital Housing Corporation ($7 million, 23 units)
- Elizabeth Metis Settlement, near Cold Lake ($3 million, 10 four-bedroom homes)
- Alberta Seniors and Housing’s Capital Plan 2021 allocates $238 million over three years to provide 1,800 new and regenerated affordable housing units, more than 1,700 jobs, and maintain the 26,700-unit provincially owned portfolio. More than 1,500 new units have been completed since 2019, of which about half were for seniors.
- Announced in 2019, the 10-year bilateral agreement between the governments of Canada and Alberta, under the National Housing Strategy (NHS), will invest $678 million to protect, renew and expand social and community housing, and support Alberta’s priorities related to housing repair, construction and affordability.
- Canada’s NHS is a 10-year $72-plus billion plan that will give more Canadians a place to call home.
- NHS is built on strong partnerships between the federal, provincial and territorial governments, and continuous engagement with others, including municipalities, Indigenous governments and organizations, and the social and private housing sectors. This includes consultations with Canadians from all walks of life and people with lived experience of housing need.
- All NHS investments delivered by the federal, provincial and territorial governments will respect the key principles of NHS that support partnerships, people and communities.
The Alberta Ministry of Seniors and Housing fosters the development of affordable housing and supports access to housing options for Albertans most in need. The ministry works with seniors, their families and caregivers, Albertans who require housing supports, and communities and other government partners. A more detailed description of the ministry and its programs and initiatives can be found at alberta.ca/seniors-and-housing.aspx.
Learn more about Alberta’s affordable housing programs.
As Canada’s authority on housing, CMHC contributes to the stability of the housing market and financial system, provides support for Canadians in housing need, and offers unbiased housing research and advice to all levels of Canadian government, consumers and the housing industry. CMHC’s aim is that by 2030, everyone in Canada has a home they can afford, and that meets their needs. For more information, please visit cmhc.ca or follow us on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Facebook.
To find out more about NHS, visit www.placetocallhome.ca.
As an organization that connects, supports and champions the urban Indigenous population in Calgary, the Aboriginal Friendship Centre is attuned to the social and economic challenges Elders experience. The centre supports the community with outreach and cultural programming that promotes empowerment, knowledge sharing, healing and reconciliation.
Learn more about the Aboriginal Friendship Centre at afccalgary.org/.
Editor’s Note: This news release was also issued by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation on Jan. 25.