10:02 AM

Indigenous cultural supports and safety to be improved in supportive housing

WET’SUWET’EN NATION – A third-party report commissioned by BC Housing to review the management practices of Smithers Community Services Association (SCSA) at Goodacre Place is now complete. The review was conducted starting in April 2021, following allegations that the deaths of six Indigenous residents were related to inadequate culturally appropriate programming at Goodacre Place supportive housing complex.

The review found that SCSA is making efforts to create cultural safety at Goodacre Place and that the organization is committed to further improvements. The review also highlighted the ongoing impacts of systemic racism and colonization on Indigenous peoples’ health and well-being.

While focus of the review was not on the deaths of Indigenous people who were living at Goodacre Place, the external consultants did not observe direct linkages between the cultural safety practices employed at Goodacre Place and the deaths.

BC Housing and Aboriginal Housing Management Association (AHMA) have committed to further supporting SCSA to build stronger relationships with Indigenous service providers in the region with the goal of improving and expanding culturally appropriate programming for Goodacre Place residents.

“Housing and Service providers in Canada cannot continue to dismiss Indigenous knowledge and traditions when serving Indigenous communities,” said Margaret Pfoh, Chief Executive Officer, AHMA. “Together, we can strengthen our commitment to correcting the injustices of the past by improving Canada’s relationship with Indigenous Peoples. Though there is a long way to go to decolonizing the housing sector, and the report completed on Goodacre Place is a critical step toward repairing that relationship.”

The report identifies 31 key recommendations for BC Housing, AHMA, and SCSA to improve cultural safety, grow the society’s external network, expand access to support services and health care, and improve operations. BC Housing and AHMA are working with the society to implement all the recommendations, which will help provide enhanced cultural safety and improved access to other support services for the clients at Goodacre Place and other BC Housing supportive housing sites.

“BC Housing appreciates the consultants’ care and attention in developing a thorough report that is the culmination of multiple interviews with clients, community members, the Smithers Community Services Association, Gitxsan Chiefs, and community partners. This report is a reminder of the ongoing negative impact of colonialism on Indigenous peoples today,” said Shayne Ramsay, CEO, BC Housing. “BC Housing recognizes that systemic change is required across the housing spectrum for Indigenous clients, and we are committed to working with operators to improve cultural safety for residents.”

The review highlights the importance of BC Housing to improve direction, standards and policies with regards to culturally appropriate programming at supportive housing sites. BC Housing and AHMA are committed to working collaboratively on new approaches that support non-Indigenous operators throughout the province to enhance cultural safety for Indigenous residents.

The report has been shared with the SCSA’s Board of Directors and staff, report interviewees, and local elected officials.

BC Housing is working with AHMA to make policy improvements that address systemic racism and will be integrating the report findings into the organization’s Reconciliation Strategy.

The review was conducted on the territory of the Wet’suwet’en Peoples and included interviews with Gitxsan leaders and staff from the Dze L’Kant Friendship Centre. BC Housing offers humble gratitude for being able to work on these lands and affirms our commitment to working in good relations.

The full Goodacre Place review report and recommendations can be found here: Goodacre Place Review.