A $150,000 donation from the Stollery Foundation, to be doled out over two years, will be put toward furnishing a social housing project Lii Michif Otipemisiwak is building in Brocklehurst.
The money was initially going to bridge a $300,000 gap needed to complete a portion of the building that will resemble a traditional Sécwépemc pit house — known as a kekuli — that will host meetings and ceremonies.
“We were fearful that we would lose that space if we weren’t able to close the gap in the funding,” Lil Michif housing and youth team leader Seanna Proulx said.
This led Lil Michif to seek out the Stollery Foundation, but BC Housing has since covered that cost, leaving Lil Michif with some flexibility on how to spend the foundation’s funds, which will still be applied to capital costs.
“Our building still requires common area furnishings and potentially some furnishing of the suites,” Proulx said.
Lil Michif is a family and community services agency dedicated to helping the Métis population.
The $4.7-million housing complex — known officially as Kikekyelc: A Place of Belonging — is expected to be operational by June 2020.
Ground broke on the project in July and it is about 50 per cent complete, with June 1, 2020, targeted as the move-in date for the residents, who will elders and younger residents ages 16 to 27, all of First Nations, Inuit and/or Métis background.
The 31 self-contained, one-bedroom or studio suites will have kitchens, but Lil Michif wants to be able to offer a meal service once per day. Proulx said the agency plans to move many programs from its youth centre to Kikekyelc, most notably its life-skills program.
Proulx said there will be a general manager at Kikekyelc during regular business hours to handle applications, collect rent, receive complaints and conduct other business. Additionally, youth support workers will operate programs at the Singh Street site.
Proulx said she anticipates that once admission criteria has been finalized and a call put out for applicants to live in Kikekyelc, the building will immediately be filled. She said she is concerned about those who do not secure a spot in the building.
“A lot of the youth we work with now struggle with homelessness,” she said, noting Lil Michif is trying to offer youth, through the housing partnership with elders, an opportunity to reconnect with their culture.