Creating innovative homes in Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations

Photo Credit: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations

Faced with a growing population and limited housing options, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations in British Columbia, turned shipping containers into rental homes.

"Our Tla-o-qui-aht workforce developed the capacity to successfully build these beautiful homes, and we are very proud of their achievements," said Acting Chief Terry Dorward. Situated on the west coast of Vancouver Island, in Tofino, British Columbia, the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations has approximately 1,200 members, of which less than 400 live on reserve. With an ever-growing population and limited housing options, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations identified an innovative solution. The community partnered with Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) and repurposed several shipping containers, turning them into 21 rental homes (16 studio suites and five family homes). The new homes will provide housing for First Nations members and seasonal workers in the community.

In addition to housing, this project created jobs and economic development opportunities for the First Nation. Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations developed its own workforce and trained members through a carpentry program at North Island College that was sponsored by ISC and the Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC). "This new housing complex is a part of our Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations economic strategic plan to both provide homes to our workers and create much-needed revenue," explains Chief Dorward.

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations' innovative container housing complex has been shared as a success story with other communities and has garnered significant media coverage for its unique approach to solving on-reserve housing issues.

Reliable infrastructure, such as housing, is one of the Government of Canada's key priorities. The Government of Canada is making significant investments and working with First Nations to improve housing and reduce overcrowding on reserve. In British Columbia, First Nations can apply for housing funds through ISC's New Approach for Housing Support Program. For this housing complex, ISC contributed $1.5 million and CMHC provided $905,000.

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