Reserve residences are homes that are available for rental on a short or long-term basis. These homes are located on reserve land set aside for First Nation people and managed by a First Nations community.
Although some reserves have good quality housing, others face serious socio-economic issues. These problems include overcrowding, lack of water infrastructure and difficulty in obtaining insurance. These issues affect the health and well-being of families living on reserve.
These housing issues can be attributed to the colonial policy of assimilation that drove away Aboriginal peoples from their homelands and cultures. This policy was intended to make them conform to the European way of life by encouraging them to adopt agriculture, Christianity and a sedentary lifestyle based on private property ownership.
Some communities have their own source of revenue and high employment rates, which helps to alleviate these problems. However, these communities are a minority among First Nations in Canada.
The Government of Canada is trying to improve the situation by introducing programs to increase funding for housing on reserves. There are also proposals to develop a more comprehensive approach to housing on reserves that emphasizes First Nations control, expertise and access to private financing. However, these efforts have not been enough to make a significant difference in the conditions on reserves. In this article, Indigenous Corporate Training discusses eight of the most pressing issues with housing on reserve. These include the fact that houses are not built for the environment, overcrowding that creates social and health issues, limited water infrastructure and a reliance on wood as a source of heat.