The centre will be used for housing, child care, and community gathering
In November, the Métis Nation of British Columbia (MNBC) announced that they had bought a plot of land in Saanich which will be used to provide affordable housing, child care, and a new home for the office of the chartered community Métis Nation of Greater Victoria (MNGV). The $2,200,000 purchase is one of many MNBC hopes to make as they aspire to build centres across B.C. to provide housing and services for Métis people.
The funding for the project was provided by the federal government’s budget in 2018, which committed a $500 million investment over the next 10 years to the Métis Nation’s housing strategy. The building of below-market rate rental housing and child care programs for Métis families will be a collaboration between the MNBC and MNGV.
Patrick Harriott–MNBC minister for culture, language and heritage; regional director for region one; minister for citizenship and community services; and the MNBC treasurer–said that two years is a broad estimate for when the centre will be operational.
“Our desire to have a place to call our own has been there for a long time,” said Harriott, who sat on the MNGV board for nine years and was formerly its president.
“With housing money that had been accumulating from the federal government, we’ve been looking for land to build Métis centers around the province.”
While planning for the Saanich location is still in its infancy, the current Community President of MNGV, Caitlin Bird, said that the local Métis community’s reaction to the news has been extremely positive.
“Our office was flooded with people saying how excited they were,” said Bird in an interview with the Martlet.
“Our community has been overjoyed and is daydreaming and imagining all that it could be.”
Bird also said that MNGV aims to use available funding for Indigenous child care to supplement the already existing Indigenous child care centres that are full and waitlisted.
“We know there is a need for Indigenous child care and Métis child care,” said Bird. “We’re hoping that this will be another opportunity for a Métis-specific child care centre, where we can learn our language and [where] cultural traditions can be passed on to our young ones.”
Both Bird and Harriott emphasized the importance of this centre’s uses for the MNGV community. They hope to see a space for Métis people to learn and pass on their culture and language, as well as have a space for workshops and community circles. Harriott also mentioned the need for community storage of items such as the community tepees.
The purchased land is located on the traditional territories of the Lekwungen peoples, the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations, and borders the W̱SÁNEĆ Nation’s territory. Bird said she has been in contact with the local Chiefs and that the MNGV hopes to include conversations with the Nations in the next steps of development.
“This building will be an important part of the broader community in the area, and that we really want to be inclusive and a good neighbour in the area,” said Bird.