FNCIAS hosts second annual housing and infrastructure conference in Saskatoon

Posted on September 20, 2023

On September 19, 2023, the First Nations Capital and Infrastructure Agency of Saskatchewan (FNCIAS) hosted our second annual FNCIAS Fall 2023 Conference at Prairieland Park in Saskatoon. The FNCIAS team would like to send our gratitude to everyone who was able to make it to the networking reception and the conference as well as those who tuned in via livestream. We would also like to thank our speakers and our vendors for helping to make the event a success.

First Nations in attendance

We had representation from 33 First Nations and two Tribal Councils from across Saskatchewan present at the conference. Your attendance and participation was valued and highly appreciated. Representatives were in attendance from the following Nations: Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation, Big Island Lake Cree Nation, Black Lake Denesuline First Nation, Buffalo River Dene Nation, Canoe Lake Cree First Nation, Carry The Kettle Nakoda Nation, Cote First Nation, File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council, George Gordon First Nation, Kahkewistahaw First Nation, Kawacatoose First Nation, Kinistin Saulteaux Nation, Lac La Ronge Indian Band, Little Black Bear First Nation, Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation, Mistawasis Nehiyawak First Nation, Muskoday First Nation, Nekaneet First Nation, Pasqua First Nation, Pelican Lake First Nation, Pheasant Rump Nakoda Nation, Piapot First Nation, Red Pheasant First Nation, Saulteaux First Nation, Standing Buffalo Dakota Nation, Star Blanket Cree Nation, Stoney Knoll, The Key First Nation, Thunderchild First Nation, Touchwood Agency Tribal Chiefs, Whitecap Dakota First Nation, Waterhen Lake First Nation, Witchekan Lake First Nation, Yellow Quill First Nation, and Zagime Anishinabek.

Conference speakers and themes

We began the event in a good way with a pipe ceremony with Lindon Linklater, followed by the Wildhorse drum group, and an opening from FNCIAS Board Chair, Chief Todd Piegan of Pasqua First Nation and Board Vice-Chair Chief Clarence Bellegarde of Little Black Bear First Nation. During the day there were eight speaker sessions including FNCIAS, partner organizations, and subject matter experts including Glenn Saganace from First Nations Financial Management Board, Jason Calla from First Nations Infrastructure Institute, Ian Bear and Jerrett Fontaine from First Nations Finance Authority, Michael Sadler from First Nations Housing & Infrastructure Council – BCDouglas Cardinal, and Derek Rope from Element Housing.

Speakers emphasized the profound connection between housing and cultural identity, highlighting that housing is not merely about shelter but a fundamental expression of heritage and community. They underscored the need for culturally sensitive and appropriate housing solutions that honour Indigenous traditions, values, and ways of life. This was reinforced by renowned Indigenous architect Douglas Cardinal who has spent his career building spaces deeply rooted in Indigenous culture, traditions, and the natural environment. Speakers also stressed the importance of collaboration between Indigenous communities, government agencies, and organizations to address the housing challenges faced by Indigenous peoples, while reinforcing that any solution must be implemented by Indigenous people. They urged a holistic approach that encompasses sustainable development, economic empowerment, and community involvement in housing initiatives.

The speakers’ remarks and table discussions also brought to light the urgent need to address the housing crisis and disparities faced by Indigenous populations. There was an acknowledgement for the need for collective action to address the housing crisis through increased funding and policy reform to ensure equitable and adequate housing for all Indigenous individuals and families. The conference brought timely and meaningful discussions around actionable strategies toward developing affordable, sustainable, accessible housing and capital infrastructure for Indigenous communities.

We look forward to hosting another conference again next year so that we can continue to grow, learn, and move forward in sustaining quality, healthy, and safe housing and infrastructure on First Nations in Saskatchewan. Please watch out for a save the date in the near future for next year’s conference.

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