Reprinted from the Rethinking Housing issue of Visions Journal, 2019, 14 (4), p. 35
Another innovative project is being provided in Kamloops by Lii Michif Otipemisiwak (LMO) Family and Community Services for Indigenous youth, who are overrepresented in the child welfare system. When youth age out of the system at 19 years old, they no longer receive Ministry supports, putting them at serious risk of homelessness as well as loss of identity, family, community and culture.
Kikékyelc: A place of belonging is an affordable, culturally-safe apartment complex of 31 units for Indigenous Elders housed together with Indigenous youth aged 16–27 who have experience with the child welfare system or who have aged out of care. "Ki-kek-yel-c" means to cover young protectively, how birds wrap wings around their young. The name was gifted to LMO by a group of Secwepemc speakers to honour the territory. "A Place of Belonging" is the name of the first LMO housing project and honours the Métis and the efforts of the organization to bring this much needed project to life.
"With the support and guidance from our LMO Elder's Council, Indigenous Youth Advisory Committee and members of our Indigenous community, we are working together to develop a culturally safe home that honours the integrity of our young Indigenous population. Our housing will be an alcohol, drug and violence free environment. It will have studio and 1 bedroom apartments, accessible suites, a kekuli common space, a common kitchen, coin laundry facilities, green space, social spaces, resident Elders, cultural mentors and in-house support workers. Cohousing Elders with our youth fosters the traditional elder-youth relationship, strengthening our community and cultivating a sense of belonging to all our residents. We honour our Elders and youth as having genuine, undeniable value." – Lii Michif Otipemisiwak Family and Community Services
Construction is set to begin, with full operations set for Fall 2020. Financing and funding is through BC Housing. For more information contact Seanna Proulx, LMO Indigenous Youth & Housing Manager (250-554-9486 or seanna. [email protected]) or Lindsay Monk, Project Manager at M’akola Development Services (778-401-5329 or [email protected] makoladev.com).