Twelve First Nations communities in the Lower Mainland and in southwestern B.C. will be supported so they can complete well-being and poverty-reduction plans and projects in their communities, thanks to a grant from the First Nations Well Being Fund.
More than $2 million in grants has been provided to 62 First Nation communities throughout the province.
“All orders of government are finding ways of reducing poverty,” said Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “I’m excited that through this funding, First Nations communities are able to develop projects that will improve individual well-being and benefit communities.”
The First Nations Well Being Fund is administered by the First Nations Public Service Secretariat, in partnership with the First Nations Leadership Council. It supports First Nations and Tribal Councils in their efforts to promote well-being, improve quality of life for community members on and off reserve, and reduce poverty at the community or Nation level.
“Numerous studies have shown that Indigenous people experience the highest levels of poverty, with a shocking 25% of Indigenous people in Canada living in poverty,” said Cheryl Casimer, political executive, First Nations Summit. “This poverty reduction initiative was created to assist B.C. First Nations to increase well-being within their communities and membership. This welcome program is a modest step toward addressing the disproportionally high rates of poverty for First Nations citizens in B.C. The program was very oversubscribed, which clearly shows there is a high demand for much-needed funding for these types of important community projects. We hope that the success of this initiative will lead to greater poverty reduction funding opportunities for our communities in the future.”
The B.C. government provided funding as part of TogetherBC, the Province’s poverty-reduction strategy.
Lower Mainland and southwestern projects include:
- Musqueam Nation — $35,000 to deliver wellness workshops for youth and Elders, and train suicide-prevention staff.
- Skwah First Nation near Chilliwack — $35,000 to support local food-security initiatives and build a community garden with raised beds for the benefit of all members.
- Squamish Nation — $35,000 for the Elders’ Centre Engagement Project that will focus on culturally sensitive mental-health wellness and engagement programs for Elders.
- Tsal’alh Seton Lake Band — $23,000 to develop a community driven, cultural well-being plan through a series of engagement sessions.
- Xaxli’p First Nation in Lillooet — $35,000 to improve local food security by planning, building and maintaining a community garden.
“As we continue the work to build and maintain strong relationships based on recognition and implementation of the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples, it’s good to know that many of the plans and projects being funded through the First Nations Well Being Fund are designed to preserve and respect Indigenous cultures and promote community well-being,” said Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.
Applications to the first intake of the fund closed May 30, 2021. All B.C. First Nations were eligible to apply to the fund, which was created with a $2.7-million grant from the Province.
“The First Nations Well Being Fund is part of government’s strategy to reduce poverty in British Columbia,” said Dan Coulter, MLA for Chilliwack. “These new grants support First Nations communities and Tribal Councils to develop plans and undertake local projects that will benefit their communities, on and off reserve.”
- The Province has legislated targets to reduce the child poverty rate by 50% and the overall poverty rate by 25% by 2024.
- B.C. was the first province in Canada to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into legislation, which was developed in collaboration and consultation with Indigenous partners.
- The First Nations Well Being Fund has two funding streams: community projects and planning.
- The community projects stream provides up to $35,000 for a single First Nation, $70,000 for two First Nations and $105,000 for regional applications of three or more partnering First Nations.
- The planning stream provides $25,000 for one First Nation, $50,000 for two First Nations or $80,000 for a regional application involving three or more partnering First Nations.
First Nations Well Being Fund: https://fnps.ca/community-projects/wellbeingfund
First Nations Public Service Secretariat: https://fnps.ca/
TogetherBC – British Columbia’s first-ever Poverty Reduction Strategy: http://gov.bc.ca/togetherbc
A backgrounder follows.