A housing complex for elders and young people of First Nations, Inuit and/or Métis background officially opened on Monday (Nov. 16), Louis Riel Day.
Located on Singh Street in Brocklehurst, Kikekyelc: A Place of Belonging is a two-storey Lii Michif Otipemisiwak Family and Community Services development that includes 31 studio and one-bedroom apartments with shared common rooms on each floor and a common laundry and kitchen space.
Residents are elders and younger people ages 16 to 27, with the goal being to reconnect youth to their culture.
On-site support services will provide tenants with access to Indigenous youth outreach workers, social workers and cultural workers who will offer counselling, programs and supports to residents through existing Lii Michif programs. There is a general manager at Kikekyelc during regular business hours to handle applications, collect rent, receive complaints and conduct other business.
The province provided $4.7 million for project, while the City of Kamloops contributed the land, valued at $420,000 and will also provide municipal fees and waivers in the amount of $80,000. The federal government chipped in $1.7 million, the Stollery Foundation donated $150,000 and BC Housing also contributed.
"Kikékyelc celebrates Indigenous culture through beautiful architecture as well as a unique housing model designed to meet the diverse needs of the resident youth and elders,” Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian said. “This project showcases the ingenuity of this community to increase diversity and accessibility across the housing continuum.”
Margaret Pfoh, CEO of Aboriginal Housing Management Association, lauded Lii Michif for bringing an idea to fruition.
“Colleen Lucier and her entire team at Lii Michif Otipemisiwak Family and Cultural Services wholeheartedly embrace AHMA's beliefs of using community-led solutions to provide our Indigenous communities with safe, affordable and culturally appropriate housing,” Pfoh said.
“There is an extremely high number of youths aging out of care. Kikékyelc will offer immeasurable stability and support to the uncertainties our Indigenous youth face here in Kamloops. This intergenerational co-housing complex for Indigenous elders and youth is a powerful family focused initiative that we are honoured to welcome to the AHMA community."
Lucier said the idea for Kikékyelc: A Place of Belonging came from a “desperate need” to improve outcomes for Indigenous youth receiving services from the child welfare system.
“Our local Métis elders challenged us by asking what, as a Métis service provider, we were doing differently to break the cycle of lost generations. Kikékyelc is an example of one of our many efforts to do something different,” Lucier said.
“It is our hope that Kikékyelc will contribute to a youth's ability to conceive of a brighter future and ultimately break the cycle that has perpetuated the over-representation of Indigenous children in care for far too long. The support received for this project is a reflection of reconciliation in action and demonstrates what can happen when Indigenous communities are supported to develop and lead services for our people.
Rents are projected to range from $400 to approximately $435 per month and tenants began moving in on Sept. 1.