The First Nations Well Being Fund is aimed at promoting wellness and reducing poverty in First Nations communities.
B.C. initiates First Nations Well Being Fund
Published 10:19 PDT, Thu March 25, 2021
B.C. was the first province in Canada to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples through legislation developed in collaboration with First Nations partners. And now it is introducing a fund to promote well-being, improve quality of life for community members on and off reserve, and find solutions to poverty in their communities.
"As part of TogetherBC, B.C.'s poverty reduction strategy, the First Nations Well Being Fund is aimed at promoting wellness and reducing poverty in First Nations communities," said Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. "I would encourage all B.C. First Nations to apply."
The First Nations Public Service Secretariat, an initiative of the First Nations Summit, is administering the fund, which was created with a $2.7-million grant from the Province.
"Indigenous peoples in Canada experience the highest levels of poverty with a shocking 25 per cent of Indigenous peoples living in poverty," said Cheryl Casimer, political executive, First Nations Summit. "This poverty reduction Initiative has been created to assist B.C. First Nations to increase well-being within their communities and membership. The program is a modest and welcome step toward addressing the disproportionally high rates of poverty for First Nations citizens in B.C. We hope that all B.C. First Nations take advantage of this important initiative."
Funding is offered through two streams: community projects and planning. The community projects stream provides up to $35,000 for a single First Nation, $70,000 for two First Nations and $105,000 for regional applications of three or more partnering First Nations.
Local projects in the community projects stream may include food security initiatives, training, building skills and employment opportunities, cultural initiatives to strengthen community and support decolonization, and other initiatives to promote well-being in the community or First Nation.
"We welcome the Poverty Reduction Initiative program as a step toward redress for the long-standing impacts of colonization faced by many of our communities and Nations, and in addressing the socioeconomic inequities that have resulted," said Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, secretary-treasurer, Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs. "As we stand up our laws and our jurisdiction in health and social services, this program will assist in developing and resourcing the initiatives needed to support our own holistic systems of wellness."
Regional chief Terry Teegee, British Columbia Assembly of First Nations, said: "Much of our work from many different and innovative approaches is focused on creating fundamental changes to significantly improve First Nations' well-being and socioeconomic status and to reverse decades of colonial interventions. We welcome the B.C. government's contribution to this work by providing funding through the poverty reduction Initiative program and which gives First Nations multiple options to advance their own social, cultural and economic initiatives within their communities."
The planning stream provides $25,000 for one First Nation, $50,000 for two First Nations or $80,000 for a regional application involving three or more partnering First Nations. Planning can include community engagement to develop a plan or begin discussions on a plan to help promote well-being and reduce poverty at the community or Nation level.
"The First Nations Well Being Fund is another step towards reconciliation," said Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. "Poverty is one of the many effects of our colonial history, and this funding will support many First Nations with plans to help reduce poverty and improve the well-being of people in their communities."
All B.C. First Nations are eligible to apply for funding. Partnering First Nations are also eligible to apply. Applications will be accepted until 11 p.m. (Pacific time) on May 30.
The fund will be administered by staff from the First Nations Public Service Secretariat according to timelines agreed to in the grant.
The province has legislated targets to reduce the child poverty rate by 50 per cent and the overall poverty rate by 25 per cent by 2024.
Learn more about the First Nations Well Being Fund at https://fnps.ca/community-projects/wellbeingfund.
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