Power to the People

Inspired Initiatives

Episode #9

Bella Coola, BC

In many parts of the country, building and maintaining sufficient housing on reserve is a constant challenge. The Nuxalk Nation looked inward for solutions to their housing problems and has now become a homegrown model for construction capacity.

High annual rates of precipitation and wind along BC’s west coast have always posed unique challenges for building and maintaining mold resistant homes and buildings. Nowhere is this more evident than in remote Indigenous communities where poor access to building materials, construction capacity and funding continue to generate insufficient, inefficient and culturally inappropriate homes. With the long term health risks of mold well diagnosed, coastal communities like the Nuxalk Nation in Bella Coola, BC, struggled with under the weight of these demands. Government sponsored prefabricated homes proved to be a poor choice for their moist climate while the cost of bringing in external construction crews put a strain on their housing budget. Through innovative housing management they found a way to empower their Nation by training their own people to design and build homes that reflect their culture and build homegrown construction capacity. Their success is now being showcased as a self-sustaining model for other First Nations.

Host Melina Laboucan-Massimo travels to beautiful Bella Coola to discover how the Nuxalk Nation built a homegrown solution to address their current and future housing demands. After seeing how their innovation is reflected in their range of buildings and homes currently under construction she heads to Nanaimo, BC where a local First Nation is sponsoring a unique Indigenous construction program at Vancouver Island University.

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