Transforming Housing and Infrastructure
In 2017, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) and the Government of Canada initiated a process to transfer housing and infrastructure programming care and control from Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) to an Indigenous-led group in Saskatchewan. The FSIN Chiefs in Assembly passed two critical resolutions to seek more control for Indigenous people over the design, delivery, and administration of First Nations’ housing and infrastructure.
At FNCIAS, we believe that engagement and consultation can lead to better relationships and is the starting point for a much deeper conversation about learning to work effectively.
Through engagement and consultation with Saskatchewan First Nations, it was determined that an independent – Indigenous-led entity – was best to move the project forward. As a result, FNCIAS was incorporated in 2020 as a non-profit membership agency to support First Nations in this transition in taking over care and control of on-reserve housing, major capital, and infrastructure programs and services from the Government of Canada.
The future agreement with Canada will be focused on providing appropriate funding and supports to close the infrastructure gap.
Phase 1: Initiation and Engagement
In Phase 1, the goal was to establish a First Nations Housing and Infrastructure Agency that is built by First Nations for First Nations and that subsequently is governed by First Nations and delivers programs and services designed to meet the needs of First Nations.
During extensive engagement, we heard that there is widespread support for the transition from government to First Nation’s control with many seeing the transformation as an exciting opportunity.
Phase 2: Continued Engagement and Program Development with Member Nations
This phase involves repeated engagement sessions so that ideas and ongoing feedback can help us further refine our focus on the delivery model and the terms of the associated transfer agreement with Canada.
Phase 3: Pilot Assessment
This phase involves working with Member First Nations to assess and quantify the infrastructure gap on Reserve lands.
Phase 4: Agency Operations
The transfer of responsibility from Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) to First Nations. Since FNCIAS is owned and operated by First Nations, it will generate long–term employment and career development for Indigenous people in housing and infrastructure.
The first FNCIAS member signed on in November 2020. There are currently 19 First Nations and one Tribal Council signed on to participate, with several other First Nations reviewing information for membership. As the FNCIAS continues its engagement with Saskatchewan First Nations, we look forward to seeing how we can collaborate with First Nation organizations across Saskatchewan to better complement and integrate holistic programs and services.
Beginning in October 2022, FNCIAS held several engagement sessions with Indigenous Nations/First Nations and organizations across Saskatchewan – to listen to and bring forward their input into how we can represent and reflect First Nations’ individual interests and infrastructure needs.
Our engagement sessions took the form of open house style meet and greets, where in-person exchanges take place between our staff and participants. Most meetings occurred around a meal, so we get to know each other better, ask questions, and hear valuable feedback.
We have been meeting with Nations across Saskatchewan. These engagements are focused on understanding current processes to help generate feedback and information to develop a strong business model that can respond to issues and gaps in program service delivery.
We believe it can lead to better relationships and is only the starting point for a much deeper conversation about learning to work effectively.
Working with Canada and focusing on closing the infrastructure gap through sustainable Federal funding model, resulting in self-determination, improved governance and localized decision-making processes.