top of page

Nurturing Change | Rewriting the Narrative of Indigenous Housing

Updated: Apr 24

The historical tapestry of Indigenous housing in Canada, while woven with challenges, also presents a unique opportunity for transformative change. One Bowl is grounded not only in acknowledging these challenges but in recognizing the untapped potential for growth, empowerment, and revitalization within Indigenous communities. One of the fundamental principles driving our mission is the promotion of Indigenous ownership in housing initiatives. By empowering Indigenous communities to own and manage their housing projects independently, we collectively foster long-term sustainability. Indigenous ownership ensures that the benefits of housing initiatives remain within the community, contributing to economic development and breaking the cycle of dependency on external entities.

Change from within handwritten on lined paper.

Opportunity Amidst Historical Realities

For centuries, forced relocations, government policies, and socio-economic disparities have been formidable barriers to the well-being of Indigenous communities. Yet, within this narrative of struggle lies an opportunity to reclaim agency and reshape the trajectory of Indigenous housing. By reframing the discourse, we invite a paradigm shift that sees historical challenges as catalysts for innovative solutions and community-led development. Traditional housing development often involves a complex supply chain that may not always align with the unique needs and values of Indigenous communities. One Bowl recognizes the importance of rethinking this conventional approach, placing Indigenous perspectives at the forefront of decision-making processes. From sourcing materials to construction methods, our social enterprise seeks to integrate cultural considerations, ensuring that each home reflects the identity, traditions, and rights of its occupants.

Truth and Reconciliation in Canada embodies a nationwide commitment to acknowledging and redressing historical injustices. Established in 2008, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) played a pivotal role in unveiling the painful truths of the residential school experience and initiating a process of healing and understanding. Released in 2015, the TRC's comprehensive report outlined 94 Calls to Action, spanning various domains and the adoption of UNDRIP, which includes article 23; Indigenous Peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for exercising their right to development. In particular, Indigenous Peoples have the right to be actively involved in developing and determining health, housing and other economic and social programmes affecting them and, as far as possible, to administer such programmes through their own institutions.

This commitment reflects a collective effort to confront the harsh realities of the past, foster empathy, and actively work towards equitable relationships, acknowledging the integral role housing plays in the broader context of reconciliation.

One Bowl, founded on the principles of social enterprise, aims to disrupt the conventional housing supply chain by focusing on collaboration, cultural sensitivity, and Indigenous ownership while providing an active approach to reconciliation through economic development in relation to the housing supply chain. We believe that sustainable solutions for Indigenous housing must be developed by and for Indigenous communities. By acknowledging the importance of self-determination, we’re here to empower Indigenous people to take control of their housing destiny.

Overcoming Substandard Conditions

Interior of an Indigenous Community home with substandard living conditions.

The substandard housing conditions faced by Indigenous communities present an opportunity for innovation in design, construction, and sustainable development. One Bowl recognizes that addressing these challenges demands a departure from conventional thinking, inspiring creative solutions that integrate traditional knowledge with modern approaches that solve more than a housing crisis, but address labour shortages by driving local Indigenous entrepreneurship and employment. Through strategic partnerships with Indigenous communities and Non-Indigenous Allies members, we are redefining housing standards from adequate to equitable by creating spaces that not only meet basic needs but also celebrate cultural identity.

Turning Overcrowding into Community Strength

While overcrowding has been a historical challenge, this is an opportunity to build stronger, more interconnected communities. Collaboration, shared resources, and bringing displaced Community Members home, we envision building homes and Communities that accommodate the unique needs of extended families, facilitating a sense of unity, connectedness, and support.

Affordable, Culturally Appropriate Homes as a Catalyst for Economic Empowerment

The shortage of affordable, culturally appropriate homes within Indigenous Communities is not just a challenge but a call to action for sustainable economic development. The potential to turn this scarcity into an opportunity for local employment, skills development, and economic empowerment by involving Indigenous community members in the construction and maintenance of homes, we are effectively creating a ripple effect of positive change, fostering a sense of pride and ownership within the community.

Boreal home construction in forested area.

Fresh Perspectives for Community Empowerment

The crux of our commitment is bringing Indigenous voices to the forefront of the conversation. By actively engaging with community leaders, elders, and residents, we create a platform for diverse perspectives and experiences to shape housing initiatives. This inclusive approach not only recognizes the wealth of Indigenous knowledge but also fosters a sense of ownership and pride, empowering communities to drive their own development.

In this context, One Bowl, a non-profit social enterprise, emerges not just as a catalyst for change but as a thought leader to address these issues, emphasizing collaboration and Indigenous ownership as key components in redefining the Indigenous housing landscape.

As we continue our journey in reshaping the narrative of Indigenous housing in Canada, there is an open invitation to collaboration and Indigenous ownership where we can redefine the future together. By honouring the rich cultural tapestry of Indigenous communities and integrating their voices into every stage of the housing process, One Bowl offers a blueprint for a more equitable, sustainable, and culturally responsive approach to Indigenous housing that not only shelters bodies but also nourishes spirits and preserves heritage.


bottom of page