Seventeen First Nation communities in Vancouver Island and the Coast 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 peoples 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.
Vancouver Island and Coastal projects include:
- Esquimalt Nation — $35,000 to deliver culturally based mental health workshops for youth and adults.
- Ka:yu:’k’t’h’ / Che:k’tles7et’h’ and Ucluelet First Nation — $52,278 to train youth and other band members in seafood harvesting, and deliver Knowledge Keeper lessons on the traditional Nuu-chah-nulth language.
- Nuxalk First Nation near Bella Coola — $25,000 to deliver workshops in food security, wellness visioning and priority setting.
- Quatsino First Nation in the village of Coal Harbour — $25,000 to deliver a series of community wellness dialogues.
- Stz’uminus First Nation— $35,000 to build a community greenhouse and develop community programming to support food security.
“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.
“First Nations communities around the province are working to reduce poverty and promote community well-being,” said Michele Babchuk, MLA for North Island. “This new funding will ensure that First Nations and Tribal Councils on Vancouver Island and the Coast can develop tools to plan and initiate a variety of projects that will benefit their communities.”
- 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 B.C.’s Poverty Reduction Strategy: http://gov.bc.ca/togetherbc
A backgrounder follows.