A beautiful, blue, four-unit home now stands facing the Seabird Island band office off of Chowat Road.
The upgraded À:yxàlh – family home, is only the second of its kind in B.C.
The building has been in the works for over a year, and according to the Seabird Island Yoohoo has had the community’s attention and curiosity since construction started in November, 2017.
Henrie de Boer, executive assistant to the director of health and social development at Seabird Island, told the Observer via email that the band submitted a proposal in May of last year to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) Shelter Enhancement Program, requesting its support in upgrading the Seabird home that had stood at 2894 Chowat Road for over 20 years – serving families that needed refuge from unsafe or unhealthy situations.
De Boer said the band wanted to renovate the home to feature separate units and better serve families who need it.
|Seabird Island Band's old Family Home on Chowat Road served families in need for over 20 years, but in May renovations were completed on the building so it can help even more in the coming years. (Submitted)
Funding was approved in October, 2017, but the funding came with a catch: the work plan had to be completed by March 31, 2018. Rain, shine and even snow didn’t stop Stqo:ya Construction from meeting the spring deadline, and in May, the À:yxàlh family home opened.
Families will have to apply for residency in the home, and those selected will be provided not only with temporary residence (up to a year), but with cultural support and resources such as life skills coaches, on-reserve social workers, counsellors, cultural programming and primary, mental and dental care.
Each unit comes with appliances, furniture and household goods, and kitchens include coffee makers, dishes, pots, pans and more.
De Boer wrote that the units are “a place for families to heal, grow and learn to come together as thriving and strong family units .”
|The renovation project was completed quickly between November, 2017 and March, 2018 by Stqo:ya Construction. (Submitted)
Not long after the upgrades at the Seabird Family Home were completed, the province announced that it will be investing provincial funds into Indigenous housing, and will be the first province to put its money into on-reserve housing.
A new ‘Building BC: Indigenous Housing Fund’ will invest $550 million over the next ten years to build 1,750 units of social housing both on and off reserve.
In a news release, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Scott Fraser said the government recognizes the rights of the province’s Indigenous people to develop the housing policies and programs that affect them.
“We’ll be working closely with the Indigenous housing sector every step of the way, to make sure Indigenous peoples are partners in building this new housing,” he stated. “This is one of the ways we are moving forward on reconciliation with First Nations and Indigenous peoples in B.C.”