Nishnawbe Aski Nation

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NAN Housing Strategy


Across Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) the ongoing shortage and inadequacy of housing is negatively impacting individual and community well-being. The ongoing First Nations housing crisis has developed out of decades of inappropriate intervention. In 2014, the 49 NAN Chiefs in Assembly declared a Collective Housing Emergency through Resolution 14/40. In 2017, the NAN Infrastructure Summit and resulting report called for the creation of a housing strategy to address the crisis. In 2018, NAN Chiefs-in-Assembly passed Resolution 18/18 calling for a modern NAN Housing Strategy.

Existing assessments of housing are conducted using national-level indicators not relevant to the unique cultural needs and lived experience of NAN community members. By not measuring appropriate indicators, proposed solutions do not address those issues, values and goals most critical to communities. In order to create meaningful change in the housing system— including design, governance, planning and the built environment— it is important that NAN and its member First Nations possess high-quality information as well as have the skills and capacity to guide their housing programs.

The NAN Housing Strategy is a three year project creating occupant-focused housing assessments, determining localized housing need, and developing housing action plans and solutions at the community and regional level. Centred around First Nations knowledge and lived experience, the Strategy will support and advocate for First Nations self-determination in the planning, governance and design of housing systems.

Shifting towards an occupant-focused, value-driven assessment of housing needs and solutions, the NAN Housing Strategy proposes a path forward for creating community self-determination in housing systems. High-quality data, rooted in local priorities will allow for communities, Tribal Councils and NAN to better determine the needs of its members. Understanding localized issues, needs and goals will inform governance and design that is appropriate and unique to communities with the objective of building houses and community to meet existing and future need.



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January 2020 Policy Brief - NEW!

August 2019 Policy Brief



 On September 19, 2018, Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) and Ryerson’s Together Design Lab announced an innovative new collaborative housing partnership - the NAN Housing Strategy:

This three-year project will create occupant-focused housing need assessments, determine local housing needs, support First Nations’ right to self-determination in their housing system, and develop housing action plans at the community and regional level.

Centred around First Nations knowledge and lived experience, the Strategy will develop community relevant housing indicators in order to support and advocate for First Nations in the planning, governance and design of their housing systems.

The NAN Housing Strategy will fulfill the right of access to adequate housing and end the collective housing emergency in NAN territory. NAN has partnered with Ryerson University’s Together Design Lab to develop this strategy and:

  1. Work at the community and regional level to develop housing solutions and action plans that recognize the unique needs, geographies and cultures of NAN First Nations.
  2. Create community-led approaches to data collection and problem identification.
  3. Support NAN First Nations’ right to self-determination in their housing systems.
  4. Encourage flexibility and creation of design solutions rooted in local lived experience.




Phase 1: Housing System Profiles

Beginning in 2018, NAN and Together Design Lab began developing community profiles on housing systems. To improve these profiles, housing documents, such as housing needs assessments, will further help develop community housing profiles.

Phase 2: Develop Metrics

From May to August 2019, NAN and Together Design Lab visited 6 NAN First Nations to host local labs and participate in housing metrics development. Metrics development is currently underway.

Phase 3: Create Community Surveys & Collect Baseline Data

In Fall 2019, NAN and Together Design Lab continued to develop metrics and make draft data collection surveys based on these metrics. Metrics will measure priorities and needs identified by NAN community members and help identify goals and potential solutions that reflect lived experiences of NAN First Nations.

In Spring 2020, NAN and Together Design Lab were to host a Housing Symposium in May 2020 for housing managers and coordinators to introduce the NAN Housing Strategy Survey.  However due to the COVID-19 this symposium has been cancelled. Instead, in Fall 2020, the NAN Housing Strategy Survey will be introduced remotely during a call-out to participate in household surveying, including the training of local facilitators to implement the survey and to collect data on housing needs based on metrics developed with input by NAN community members. Details to follow.

Phase 4: Goal Identification

Phase 5: Community Housing Plans



A call-out for communities to implement community surveys and collect baseline data to help create housing need assessments will be announced in Fall 2020. NAN and Together Design Lab will be available to work with 2 to 7 NAN First Nations in Fall 2020 to train local facilitators in data collection with the new survey. Details to follow.

A NAN Housing Paper has been developed in response to the development of the First Nations National Housing and Infrastructure Strategy, led by the Assembly of First Nations and Indigenous Services Canada, the position paper can be found here:

For more information on the NAN Housing Strategy, please contact:

Michael McKay

Director of Housing & Infrastructure

Nishnawbe Aski Nation