Six First Nations communities in the Thompson Okanagan 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 Nations 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.
Thompson Okanagan projects include:
- Coldwater Indian Band — $32,257 to record traditional teachings and decolonization, and implement an Elders’ cultural and Knowledge-Keeping group.
- Lower Similkameen Indian Band — $35,000 for food security initiatives, including food distribution and restoring a local greenhouse.
- Lytton First Nation — $35,000 to develop and deliver training and skill-building programs around mobility and fall prevention for Elders in the community.
- Okanagan Indian Band — $34,600 for food security initiatives in the community, including skill-building workshops, apiculture (beekeeping) training and a community garden.
- Osoyoos Indian Band — $25,000 to deliver eight community-based sessions to develop and build a well-being plan for band members.
“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.
“Local Indigenous leaders are improving community food security and delivering quality of life programs that support their members both on and off reserve,” said Roly Russell, MLA for Boundary Similkameen. “To me, improving well-being is the foundational goal that matters to us all, so I'm thrilled for these communities. When we work together to raise one another up, everyone in our communities is better off.”
- 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.