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Indigenous Services Canada


Indigenous communities defining solutions

The Government of Canada is making major investments to reduce overcrowding, improve building quality, and address housing shortages in Indigenous communities. At the same time it is looking for ways to empower Indigenous communities to find new solutions, accelerate change and build new partnerships to enhance community well-being and improve people’s lives.

What is the Indigenous Homes Innovation Challenge?

The Indigenous Homes Innovation Challenge is a national competition that will be launched by the Government of Canada in fall 2018. It is designed to feed into broader efforts underway to close the housing gap for Indigenous peoples. A partnership between Indigenous Services Canada and Infrastructure Canada, this initiative will award prize money to creative projects led by Indigenous peoples to design and build more effective, sustainable and culturally appropriate living spaces for Indigenous peoples.

Emphasis will be placed on designs that can be replicated in other communities to help reduce overcrowding, improve building quality and address housing shortages. From start to finish, the Challenge will be overseen by an Indigenous Steering Committee.

What is the goal?

The goal is to fund new approaches for the design and construction of Indigenous-led home and community innovation projects for First Nation, Inuit and Métis peoples living in rural and urban communities. This Challenge is an opportunity to test new ideas, encourage partnerships with the private and not-for-profit sectors and improve financing options.

It is also an opportunity to inspire designs that are culturally and geographically appropriate and enhance community well-being by investing in the construction of more dignified living spaces.

Credit: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

Is this part of the Smart Cities Challenge?

The Indigenous Homes Innovation Challenge is being done in partnership with Infrastructure Canada, the Department running the Smart Cities Challenge. The Indigenous Homes Innovation Challenge addresses the Government of Canada’s commitment to a competition specific to Indigenous communities that reflects their unique realities and needs. This competition expands on the Smart Cities Challenge and provides funding to test new approaches to improve housing for First Nation, Inuit and Métis peoples and will leverage the experiences gathered from the first round of the Smart Cities Challenge.

How much funding is available?

$30 Million Dollars

The Government of Canada will award a total of $30 million in prize money for new builds through the Indigenous Homes Innovation Challenge. Prizes will be awarded over three rounds, starting in spring 2019.

Outreach to the private sector for additional funding will also be encouraged through the Challenge. In each round, the Indigenous Steering Committee will also recommend a select number of applicants with creative concepts and proposals that require further development to participate in an Innovation Lab. Through the Lab, applicants will receive financial and technical support to advance their proposals to allow them to compete in a later round of prizes

How will awards be determined?

The Challenge will be led by an Indigenous Steering Committee formed of First Nation, Métis, Inuit and urban Indigenous experts. The Steering Committee will provide recommendations to the Minister of Indigenous Services on project award selection. In each round, projects that are ready for construction will be eligible for prize money and proposals that require more development will be considered for the Innovation Lab.

Credit: Indigenous Services Canada

Who can apply and when?

Applications must be led by Indigenous communities or organizations and focus on improving Indigenous community well-being. The Challenge will be launched in fall 2018 and the first call for proposals will be open until winter 2019. Further details on application criteria will be made available in fall 2018.

The first round of awards and selection of Innovation Lab participants will be featured at a Symposium in spring 2019.

What are some of the Challenge's key principles?

The Challenge will:

  • Be Indigenous-led with solutions that are community-driven
  • Provide substantial support to proposals through Innovation Labs
  • Measure project innovation through their impact on socioeconomic outcomes
  • Be inclusive of distinctions, with First Nation, Inuit and Métis projects in both rural and urban areas
  • Encourage the revitalization of traditional building styles and techniques
  • Bring new partners to the table, inviting universities and colleges and the private and non-profit sectors to directly contribute with mentoring, expertise and funding

The Challenge will prioritize projects that:

  • Can be readily replicated
  • Provide local jobs and training
  • Use local sustainable resources
  • Promote energy efficiency
  • Improve well-being of families

What is the Government of Canada doing to close the housing gap for Indigenous Peoples?

Budget 2016 provided $554.3 million over two years to address immediate housing needs for First Nations people on reserve.

Credit: Indigenous Services Canada

As of March 31, 2018, 8,786 homes had been built, renovated, retrofitted or serviced. Work on an additional 5,178 housing units or lots is underway, for a total of 13,964 housing units or lots serviced.

In response to feedback from Indigenous leaders who called for a targeted housing approach for First Nation, Inuit and Métis Nation communities that respects the distinct needs of each Indigenous group, the government made the following investments in Budget 2017 and Budget 2018:

2017 and 2018 Budget Investments

  • $600 million over three years to support First Nations housing on reserve as part of a 10-year Housing Strategy that is being developed with First Nations.
  • $400 million over 10 years to support an Inuit-led housing plan in Nunavik, Nunatsiavut and Inuvialuit Settlement Region. This is in addition to $240 million over 10 years announced in Budget 2017 to support housing in Nunavut.
  • $500 million over 10 years to support the Métis Nation’s housing strategy.

Challenge Details

From start to finish the Challenge will be overseen by an Indigenous Steering Committee.

Key dates

  • Challenge launch: Fall 2018
  • Deadline for submissions: Winter 2019
  • Challenge Symposium: Spring 2019

Who can apply?

  • Open to First Nation, Inuit, and Métis communities and organizations


  • $30 million over three rounds to fund new builds for First Nation, Inuit, Métis and urban projects
  • Additional funding and support through an Innovation Lab to advance innovative proposals and allow them to compete in a later round of prizes