Manitoba

Indigenous-led Winnipeg organizations' $620M investment plan proposes new hospital, housing

A hospital for Indigenous people and hundreds of new housing units are among the spending priorities laid out in an investment plan released by a coalition Indigenous-led organizations in Winnipeg.

Decade-long Winnipeg Indigenous Executive Circle plan focuses on making city a better, healthier place

Kendall Joiner is co-chair of the Winnipeg Indigenous Executive Circle and executive director of the Native Clan Organization. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

A hospital for Indigenous people and hundreds of new housing units are among the spending priorities laid out in an investment plan released Wednesday by a coalition of Indigenous-led organizations in Winnipeg.

The Winnipeg Indigenous Executive Circle — a coalition of 32 member organizations that work to support Winnipeg's Indigenous population — is proposing a 10-year, $620-million spending plan, which it believes will make Winnipeg a better, healthier place for its communities.

"It's essentially just laying out … in dollar terms, where we need help and where we see funding gaps that we need to actually hit these objectives," co-chair Kendall Joiner said at at the Neeginan Centre on Higgins Avenue, where the plan was unveiled on Wednesday.

Spending proposals are broken down into four priority areas: health and well-being, housing and homelessness prevention, supports for families, and employment and education. 

One of the big-ticket items in the plan is a hospital specifically serving Indigenous people, estimated to cost $65 million.

The plan also calls for a commitment to build hundreds of new housing units, including supportive housing and units with rent geared to income, expected to cost at least $347 million.

Other priorities include $1 million for cultural programming through the Winnipeg Indigenous Friendship Centre and $1.2 million for the creation of Indigenous research institutes.

Leaders of the Winnipeg Indigenous Executive Circle —  whose membership includes organizations like Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, End Homelessness Winnipeg and the Eagle Urban Transition Centre — say the goals in the plan would promote and elevate the work Indigenous-led groups are already doing.

"We're a community that's always been told, 'this is what you need to do to move forward,'" said Crystal Laborero, chief executive officer of the coalition group.

"I think we're in a day and a time that we are now realizing that … we have a lot of leaders in the community that are looking to make change for the urban Indigenous community and we have the solutions. We're the experts in our field, so we feel that we can do this."

The coalition says the plan shows governments and donors exactly what it would take to make Winnipeg a more welcoming and safer place for people who are First Nations, Métis and Inuit.

Success will be measured not by dollar value, but by how willing governments are to come to the table as equals, and how willing they are to understand that the Indigenous-led groups that make up the coalition know exactly what their communities need, the Winnipeg Indigenous Executive Circle said.

With files from Sam Samson

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