A new multi-million dollar transitional housing unit opened Friday in Lethbridge.
Nearly 20 years in the making, the Blackfoot Family Lodge Society (BFLS) Soaring Hearts project will welcome Indigenous women and their children who move from the Kainai, Siksika and Piikani reserves to settle in Lethbridge.
“This is an opportunity for a lot of our transitioning Blackfoot women who want to come to town,” said Lance Tailfeathers, president of BFLS. “It’s always a challenge to find affordable housing and rent a suitable apartment.”
He added that it is important to prepare these women for success.
“Not just providing them with housing, but providing them with programs to help them live in the city while staying connected to Blackfoot culture.” »
The Alberta Indigenous Housing Capital program helped fund nearly $3.4 million and an additional $300,000 came from the city to deconstruct an existing church to make way for the two 7-unit townhouses.
Tailfeathers said the government’s collaboration and recognition of the needs of Indigenous people shows an intention reflective of truth and reconciliation.
Blaine Hyggen, mayor of the City of Lethbridge, added that he is happy there is a place where families can bring their roots to their new home.
“There may be areas of smudging. There may be areas where they can continue the culture that they’ve lived with for so many years and be able to move it forward,” Hyggen said.
“Our hope is to provide a place where women can thrive, a place where they can feel safe,” said Mary Ann Crow Healy, executive director of BFLS.
Each townhouse unit has three bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, and access to backyard green spaces.
Crow Healy said out of more than 40 applicants, 14 residents will be selected and will move in as early as Oct. 1.
Families can stay for up to three years before moving into their own homes and must follow rules, including no violence, drugs or alcohol.
“In order to have a safe community, we cannot allow these kinds of things to happen in this area,” Crow Healy said.
A daycare and the redevelopment of an existing residence into a 12-unit apartment are part of the next phase of construction.
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