Indigenous Services Canada

Indigenous Homes Innovation Initiative

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Housing Challenge

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.

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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 as well as $176.7 million over two years to address the challenges relating to northern and Inuit housing.

Construction workers lifting wooden house frame

Credit: Indigenous Services Canada

As of June 30, 2018, 9,996 homes had been built, renovated, retrofitted or serviced. Work on an additional 4,111 housing units or lots is underway, for a total of 14,107 housing units or lots serviced.

In response to feedback from Indigenous leaders who called for a targeted housing approach for First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation communities that respects the distinct needs of each Indigenous group, the Government of Canada 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.

What is the Indigenous Homes Innovation initiative?

The Government of Canada plans to launch a special innovation initiative in early 2019, designed to feed into broader efforts underway to close the housing gap for Indigenous peoples.

From start to finish, this innovation initiative will be overseen by an Indigenous Steering Committee.

A partnership between Indigenous Services Canada and Infrastructure Canada, this initiative will provide funding 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.

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 Nations (on and off reserve), Inuit and Métis peoples living in rural and urban communities. This innovation initiative provides 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.

Yellow building with trees and totem pole

Credit: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

How much funding is available?

$30 Million Dollars

The Government of Canada will provide a total of $30 million for new builds through the Indigenous Homes Innovation initiative. The first round of funding will be provided in spring 2019.

This innovation initiative will go beyond current federal programming and will be in addition to Budget 2017 and Budget 2018 funding for distinctions-based housing.

The innovation initiative will be led by an Indigenous Steering Committee formed of First Nations, Inuit, Métis and urban Indigenous experts who will oversee project selection and funding allocations. Funding for new builds will be provided to a select number of projects that are ready for construction, and proposals that require further development will be considered for the Innovation Lab. Through the Lab, chosen applicants will receive financial and technical support to advance their proposals and apply for future funding.

Outreach to the private sector for additional funding will also be encouraged.

Man on a ladder leveling plastic vinyl siding on a grey house

Credit: Indigenous Services Canada

Who can apply and when?

Applications are open to First Nations, Inuit and Métis innovators. All proposals require support from Indigenous communities and focus on improving Indigenous community well-being. This innovation initiative will be launched in early 2019 and details on application criteria and specific deadlines will be made available then.

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

What are some of the key principles?

This innovation initiative 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 Nations, 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

This innovation initiative 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

Is this linked to the Smart Cities Challenge?

The Indigenous Homes Innovation initiative is being done in partnership with Infrastructure Canada, the Department running the Smart Cities Challenge. It will leverage experiences gathered from the first round of the Smart Cities Challenge. This innovation initiative provides an opportunity to test new ideas and support approaches that are Indigenous-led and community-driven to improve housing for First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.

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Challenge details

Who can apply?

  • Open to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis innovators. All proposals will require Indigenous community support.


  • Launch: early 2019
  • Deadline for submissions: by March/April 2019
  • Symposium: Spring 2019