The Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness (ACEH) engages Indigenous voices to frame the questions and solutions to Aboriginal homelessness in Victoria, BC with goals to work collaboratively across Vancouver Island. The work of the ACEH is centered on the voices of Indigenous peoples with lived experience who have shared their immediate needs, systemic and structural barriers, gaps in services, as well as their hopes, dreams, and perspectives on solutions. The ACEH seeks to create a community of love and care to help Indigenous peoples experiencing homelessness reconnect with families and culture, and ultimately, become stably housed.
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, advocacy 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 its inception the ACEH has: became a BC non-profit society; became a Registered Charity; Transitioned its Constitution and Bylaws to meet the new BC Societies Act; Developed a 5-year Strategic Plan and Governance Framework; Developed a Business Plan; Held three Annual General Meetings; and most recently is becoming a housing provider.
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.
Our Strategic Priorities:
1. FINDING WELLNESS: Provide island-wide culturally appropriate housing through the use of leading-practice housing models.
2. BUILDING COMMUNITY: Strengthen existing programs and services through an Aboriginal worldview.
3. BEARING WITNESS: Advocate for public policy and support for Aboriginal housing and services.
4. BUILDING OUR STRENGTH: Secure core funding and infrastructure for operations and adopt sound business practices for service delivery.
For more information about our organization, please visit our Facebook Page: Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness or contact firstname.lastname@example.org