Indigenous Services Canada
Indigenous Homes Innovation InitiativeBack to all challenges
An Indigenous Steering Committee leads the Initiative with the support of the Government of Canada. The Committee will review and evaluate all ideas. The Committee is composed of prominent Indigenous individuals from across Canada:
Minister for Housing and Property Management, Manitoba Metis Federation
Will Goodon has built a career with a combination of community service and entrepreneurship. Tutored by his parents to look for opportunities in business, Will also seized the calling of working for the Métis Nation in the Métis Government in various capacities.
As well, partnering with his father, Will is an ownership partner in motel projects in southwestern Manitoba, with properties in Deloraine, Boissevain and Killarney.
He worked for several years at Goodon Industries, as both the marketing manager and purchaser. Goodon’s was built by Irvin Goodon in 1963 and sold 3 buildings. By the early 2000s, it was the largest agricultural construction company in western Canada. At the same time, Will ran a combination convenience store, gas bar, laundromat and motel at a property in Brandon, Manitoba.
Will also continues to work for Metis Governments as a facilitator, consultant and assembly chair. He has chaired local, regional, provincial and national assemblies and conferences, with attendance of up to 3,000 participants. He has also attended United Nations and OAS events internationally representing the Metis Nation.
In June 2014, Will was elected to the Metis Government in Manitoba - the Manitoba Metis Federation - as a provincial board representative for the Southwest Region. President Chartrand appointed him as Minister of Housing & Property Management. He was subsequently re-elected to the Metis Government in 2018 and re-appointed to the same portfolio.
He also represented the Metis Nation as a Core member of the Indigenous Circle of Experts for Parks Canada in 2017 and 2018 which oversaw an Indigenous perspective on parks and protected areas in Canada. He continues to assist with this file as a representative on the National Steering Committee of the Pathway to Canada Target 1.
Will was also instrumental in the recognition of Métis harvesting rights in Manitoba. In 2004, he shot a ring-neck duck in southwestern Manitoba and was charged by provincial conservation officers. The ensuing court case lasted 4 1/2 years and in the end, Will was found not guilty because his harvesting rights were protected by s.35 of the Constitution Act.
Will's family lives on acreage south of Brandon, Manitoba. In his spare time, he spends his days with his dad at the log cabin the two of them built in the Turtle Mountains, hunting and cutting firewood.
Interview with Will Goodon
Will describes the importance of the Initiative and what practice from his home community he would like to apply in his work on the Initiative.
Dawn Madahbee Leach
General Manager, Waubetek Business Development Corporation
Dawn Madahbee Leach is a proud member of the Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation on Manitoulin Island in Northern Ontario where she has served as a member of her community’s Council. Since 1988, she has been General Manager of the Waubetek Business Development Corporation, an Aboriginal Financial Institution that provides financing and economic services to Aboriginal entrepreneurs and First Nation communities throughout North-East Ontario and Southern Ontario. Waubetek also delivers aquaculture services to Indigenous people throughout central Canada. Under her leadership, Waubetek has proudly invested more than $80 million in 3,600 Aboriginal businesses who experience a business success rate of 94%. A graduate of the University of Waterloo Economic Development Program, Ms. Madahbee Leach also studied at York University and earned a degree in Political Science with a minor in Law from Laurentian University.
Dawn is the first Aboriginal woman in Canada to head up a commercial lending institution. In 2004, Dawn was recognized as a “Mover and Shaker” for economic development in the Northern Ontario Business newspaper. She was also celebrated as one of Laurentian University’s 25 Distinguished Alumni during the university’s twenty-fifth anniversary. She also contributed chapters to two published book compilations: 1) “Changing Lives: Women of Northern Ontario”; and 2) “Governance in Northern Ontario – Economic Development and Policy-Making” by Segsworth and Conteh with her chapter “First Nations Inclusion: A Key Requirement to Building the Northern Ontario Economy”. She is a recipient of the Anishnawbek Nation’s Lifetime Achievement Award; the MNP-AFOA Canada Excellence in Aboriginal Leadership Award in 2017 and was celebrated as one of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network in 2018. She has been a speaker at international forums in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the UN on Indigenous economic development.
Dawn serves on various Boards and committees including the National Indigenous Economic Development Board where she serves as Vice-Chair. She also serves on the Boards of the Peace Hills Trust Company; the Northern Policy Institute (a northern Ontario think tank) and NioBay Minerals Inc. She is serving on two national Ministerial panels on commercial fisheries and on Indigenous housing. Dawn is the owner of Indigenous Business International, a company that provides assistance to Indigenous peoples on sector strategies and corporate partnerships.
Sharing her knowledge on the Aboriginal economy, she was instrumental in the development of the National Aboriginal Economic Benchmark Report (2012) and the follow-up National Aboriginal Economic Progress Reports 2015 and the 2019 report. She also co-chaired the development of the “Anishnawbek Nation Economic Blueprint” which is used today by several First Nations in Ontario. She also guided the establishment of the internationally renowned “Great Spirit Circle Trail” Aboriginal tourism organization based on Manitoulin Island in Northern Ontario.
She believes strongly that economic development, and following the Anishinabek traditional values, are the keys to addressing the challenges that her people face. She is a northern style traditional dancer on the powwow circuit. Dawn is happily married to the National Hockey League legend Reggie Leach and is the proud mother of Crystal Madahbee. Dawn is also deeply honoured to be a Nokomis to 1 granddaughter and 3 grandsons.
Interview with Dawn Madahbee Leach
Dawn describes the importance of the Initiative and what changes at a community level could result from Initiative funding.
Marcel Lawson-Swain, LL.B
CEO, Lu’ma Native Housing Society
Marcel Lawson-Swain is currently the Chief Executive Officer (a position he has held for the past 32 years) of the Lu’ma group of companies, which includes Lu’ma Native Housing Society, Lu’ma Native BCH Housing Society, First Funds Society, Lu’ma Medical Centre Society, the Aboriginal Land Trust, and the Lu’ma Development Management LTD. Marcel is Ojibwe, Cree and Métis. He also holds a Law Degree and Business Degree and was called to the Bar of the Law Society of British Columbia where he has practiced law in the city of Vancouver.
Marcel is also a past federal government employee where he worked at Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the Privy Council Office. He is a national award winning housing and homelessness advocate for his work on Indigenous Peoples and housing throughout Canada. Mr. Lawson-Swain has dedicated the last 38 years working in the field of housing and homelessness. Marcel is a board member of Terra Housing Consultants and SPARC BC. He is a founding member of the National Aboriginal Housing Association and the Metro Vancouver Aboriginal Executive Council. He is also a past director of the Median Credit Union, one of Canada’s first Indigenous financial institutions.
Executive Director, Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
Stemming from changes in her personal life, Pamela stepped down from the Steering Committee on April 28, 2023.
Pamela Glode-Desrochers has been employed with Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre for twenty-two years.
Pamela is a Mi’kmaw woman who has a deep understanding of Aboriginal perspectives and is passionate about helping urban Aboriginal people access support and guidance in areas such as social, health, justice and education that will meaningfully contribute to a safer, healthier and more vibrant urban Aboriginal community.
Pamela’s mandate as the Executive director of the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre is to provide quality structured social based programming to urban Indigenous people with a focus on reducing poverty and crime, health, housing, homelessness, justice and the promotion of personal and community health and well-being. She has a strong focus on the development of a new Friendship Centre that will provide opportunities for the urban Indigenous community to become self-sustainable.
Pamela has been attributed with increasing the number of programs and services offered at the Friendship Centre in the last 3 years from 9 and to 28 programs which includes an employment and training program, housing program, several literacy programs and a youth program to name a few.
Pamela believes effective communication is the cornerstone to any successful initiative and is committed to building partnerships with all stakeholders (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) on behalf of the Friendship Centre to ensure the quality of life for urban indigenous people is improved.
Pamela is also an Executive Member of Atlantic Urban Aboriginal Knowledge Network (UAKN) and a member of the Aboriginal Circle that guides the UAKN.
Currently she sits on the Board of Directors of the National Association of friendship Centers.
In June 2017, Pamela received the Governor General’s award: Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers in Ottawa for Outstanding Indigenous Leadership.
President and CEO, Des Nedhe Development
After a 20-year career in the resource industry and an extensive history in executive leadership, community development and human resources, Sean Willy was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Des Nedhe Development in August 2017.
Sean joined Des Nedhe as Vice President in July 2016 and led numerous business development initiatives for Des Nedhe. His experience with Indigenous communities and corporations enabled him to establish strong ties between Des Nedhe and its numerous Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners.
With roots in the Denesuline and Métis communities, Sean brings an understanding of the expectations and needs of Indigenous people. Growing up in a mining household, he experienced life in communities across the Canadian Shield – from the Northwest Territories to Nunavut to Alberta to Saskatchewan.
In his role as Director, Corporate Responsibility at Cameco, Sean developed the strategies and led all negotiations which saw Cameco build upon its successful track record with Indigenous peoples. This led to Sean building partnerships in Australia, the United States, and throughout Canada.
Sean’s proudest career achievement was signing five community-based agreements in Australia and northern Saskatchewan and completing the unique legacy trust fund in Canada, the Six River Trust.
Sean has served as past co-chair of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, past chair of the very successful Northern Career Quest and devotes much of his current additional time in working with global Indigenous communities on economic development strategies.
Sean has two children and lives with his wife Melissa in Saskatoon.
Interview with Sean Willy
Sean speaks on the need to change the status quo regarding Indigenous housing and how this can be done using Indigenous innovation.
Terry Audla, President and CEO, Nunavut Housing Corporation
President and CEO of the Nunavut Housing Corporation
Stemming from changes in his professional life, Terry stepped down from the Steering Committee on March 30, 2022.
Terry Audla was appointed as President and CEO of the Nunavut Housing Corporation in January 2016. As President and CEO, Terry is responsible for more than 5,500 homes/public housing stock in the Nunavut Territory and works towards filling the gaps in affordable housing and the housing continuum across the Territory.
Previous to that he had been appointed as the President and National Inuit Leader of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), the national organization representing 55,000 Inuit in Canada, from 2012 to 2015. He was born in Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit), and raised in Resolute Bay, the son of High Arctic Exiles that relocated from Inukjuak, Quebec, in the early 1950s.
Mr. Audla has dedicated his career to the implementation of Inuit land claim agreements and the growth of economic opportunities for Inuit and Nunavut residents. He began with the Qikiqtani Inuit Association in 1993 as its land manager and subsequently executive director, seconded to the Office of the Interim Commissioner of Nunavut, Department of Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs as the Claims Implementation Coordinator in 1999, and later in 2011 with the Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated as its Chief Executive Officer. He is married to Terri Lynn Potter and is a father of four.
Who can apply?
- Individuals of First Nation, Inuit or Métis Nation heritage
- Representatives of First Nation, Inuit or Métis Nation government
- Indigenous representatives of a First Nation-, Inuit- or Métis Nation- owned and operated private or not-for-profit entity
- Launch: April 11, 2019
- First-stage screening: Fall 2019
- 26 applicants selected for Accelerator: December 2019
- Accelerator begins: January 2020
- Second-stage screening: Beginning spring 2020
- Project Implementation Period: 2020-2024
- Accelerator Period: Up to 26 applicants will receive up to $350,000 worth of funding and support services
- Project Implementation Period: 15 to 26 projects that successfully complete the Accelerator Period will move to second-stage screening and could receive up to $2 million per project.