On November 20th, the BCMF research team members and community leaders attended the Housing Central Conference in Vancouver. The conference featured a variety of sessions and workshops on topics such as housing accessibility, homelessness, indigenous housing issues, and more. The urgency of the housing crisis, rental scarcity, rising costs and homelessness was abundantly clear at this conference.
Conference attendees were hearing hopeful words from sector leaders and government officials like “inclusion”, “reconciliation” and “partnering with others”. In spite of these sentiments, the sector is struggling with efforts to decolonize their work, amidst government inaction, competition for scarce government resources, and a lack of willingness among some stakeholders to engage in partnerships, share power and build new relationships.
For Métis, the reality is that Métis local voices are not prominent in these spaces and their lived and living experiences remain unheard.
BC Métis Federation Director of Research Joe Desjarlais stated, “The question remains: how will the sector create space for community-led Métis voices to be properly represented? Housing and homelessness legislation, policy and initiatives must shift the reconciliation narrative for all Métis in the province by moving away from top-down initiatives that benefit the few, and that have little impact on local communities.”
Many thanks to BCMF and Sparc BC for supporting our community partners to attend the conference to support their current Métis at Home Capacity Project, and take the first steps to build needed relationships and find their own unique Métis voices in the non-profit housing sector.
Desjarlais concluded, “In spite of the challenges I was proud to be at the conference with our local researchers and community leaders. At the BCMF we offer a community-based approach to understand our current needs and the historical roots of Métis housing and homelessness experiences. We want to contribute to reconciliation by setting the stage for increased recognition of our members and of self-determining Métis communities as fully active partners in the province’s reconciliation dialogue.”
BCMF is committed to honest dialogue, meaningful partnerships and community-based solutions.