Thunder Bay

Housing plan creates 20-year blueprint to solve issues in Nibinamik First Nation

One remote community in northwestern Ontario says it has the blueprint it needs, to solve its long standing housing issues.
Many homes in Nibinamik First Nation are in need of repairs, including that of Chief Sheldon Oskineegish. (Sheldon Oskineegish/Faceboook)

One remote community in northwestern Ontario says it has the blueprint it needs, to solve its long standing housing issues.

Nibinamik First Nation, about 450 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, has an on-reserve population of about 400 people.

Housing is in short supply, and many of the homes in the community are log construction. The community itself was built in the mid-1970s.

Two years ago, the community undertook a housing study.

"Altogether we needed 95 homes in the community to accommodate everybody to live comfortably in our community," said Chief Sheldon Oskineegish, noting the figure included homes that required replacement.

Even Oskineegish's own home is in poor condition, requiring major renovations, he said. His home has mould problems, along with requiring new windows and doors, and electrical issues.

The bathroom in the home of Chief Sheldon Oskineegish at Nibinamik First Nation. The home needs major work, he said, which will get tackled as part of a 20-year housing plan. (Sheldon Oskineegish/Facebook)

He said there are homes that can be repaired, but there is also a need to address overcrowding issues.

Starting this year, the community will apply a maintenance fee to all of its homes, to cover the cost of constant repairs.

The fees are based on the condition of the home, and outline what portion of the home is a responsibility of the community and that of the occupant.

"It's been an ongoing issue for so many years, but even though we're building houses, but it's still a slow process," said Oskineegish.

The community has set a target of building nine new homes per year. So far, that target has been met, with talks in progress with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to build more rapid-access houses, he said.

The home of Chief Sheldon Oskineegish also has electrical issues, as do many homes in Nibinamik First Nation. (Sheldon Oskineegish/Facebook)

The mortgages would be held by the community, he said and does not require any involvement from the federal government.

The goal is to have the community's housing woes solved in 20 years. It might seem like a long time, but Oskineegish said the progress made so far, is satisfying.

About the Author

Jeff Walters


Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Jeff is proud to work in his hometown, as well as throughout northwestern Ontario. Away from work, you can find him skiing (on water or snow), curling, out at the lake or flying.