Who We Are
The ACEH began as an initiative through the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness ("GVCEH") in May 2014. GVCEH was established in 2008 with a mandate to end homelessness in Greater Victoria. In that role, it works primarily in the areas of research, communications, advocay and policy planning. Since its inception, the GVCEH had been challenged to bring a First Nations voice to address Aboriginal housing and homelessness. With up to 30% of those experiencing homelessness in Victoria self-identifying as Aboriginal, the need for an Aboriginal voice and leadership was critical.
On April 15th, 2015 Chiefs, leaders, representatives, and community members from the three Vancouver Island Tribal Groups (Coast Salish, Nuu-chah-nulth, Kwakwaka'wakw) and Metis Nation BC gathered at the Esquimalt Long House to form the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness and to symbolically sign a drum with the vision statement written on it committing to continued dialogue.
Since then, the ACEH has established as a non-profit society; transitioned its constitution and bylaws to meet the new BC Societies Act; became a registered charity; and developed its governance processes, governance framework, set strategic direction, and holds Annual General Meetings in June.
The key elements that were missing in response to Aboriginal homelessness are Aboriginal people/leaders, culturally strategic supports, connection to homelands, building of self-identity and baseline data. The ACEH seeks to build on lessons learned through pilot programs to influence policy change, getting more Aboriginal people to the table, and disseminating information to partner organizations and government bodies.
FOUR BIG POSTS - AN ABORIGINAL HOUSING STRATEGY
the image of a Coast Salish Big House provides the framework for the Aboriginal Housing Strategy. Big Houses have 4 corner posts, each providing a different perspective and support to the House. For the Aboriginal Strategy, each posts represents one component or strategic initiative needed. All four posts are equal in urgency and importance and together provide the structure for Aboriginal housing in our community. The vision for the strategy is at the center of the House, providing the warmth, the fire that unites us in this work.
Governance, Policy, Resources: Engaged leadership (Aboriginal & non-Aboriginal), policy changes and appropriate funding are needed to enable a change in mind set around homelessness and housing for Aboriginal peoples and systemic change.
Shelter, Housing, Homes: From shelter to temporary housing to permanent homes, there is a shortage of available housing for Aboriginal peoples in the Capital Regional District (CRD). Any strategy must therefore include the building and maintenance of new housing opportunities for Aboriginal youth, adults, elders, and families.
Support Services: Responding to the housing needs of Aboriginal peoples means more than simply constructing new housing units. There is a need for holistic and culturally safe support services to assist Aboriginal individuals and families to secure housing, maintain housing, and to transition along the continuum of housing opportunities. Support services that are culturally relevant to Aboriginal peoples are not just 'extras' but are integral to any housing strategy.
Community Relations: It will take the whole community of the CRD to make effective change for Aboriginal housing. A community that is inclusive and cooperative is a new paradigm that has the potential for meaningful change.