Canadian Contractor

By Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation   

Factoring in Indigenous cultural needs in housing design

Canadian Contractor Resources cmhc NWAC SAACA

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) plan for a new housing design model that better meets the needs of Indigenous women, girls, Two-Spirit, transgender and gender diverse (WG2STGD+) people.

NWAC conducted extensive research and worked with architects to design plans for a sustainable, affordable, accessible and culturally appropriate (SAACA) housing design framework. The project, which looks at the Indigenous housing and housing for those in greatest need received $100,000 in funding from CMHC.

NWAC’s research identifies successful housing features and models for SAACA housing in First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities in Canada. The research included a literature review, cross-jurisdictional scan and national online survey. One key focus area was to identify the differences among subgroups of Indigenous WG2STGD+ people and housing needs based on geography within Canada, given the vastly different climates, ground conditions, traditional and cultural housing. The proposed design for SAACA housing and its various features aims to respond to these distinct needs.

Mathieu Laberge, CMHC senior vice president of housing economics and insights comments,


Better understanding and addressing the housing needs of Indigenous women, girls, Two-Spirit, transgender and gender diverse (WG2STGD+) people is key to fostering reconciliation and inclusion in our communities across the country. The housing design based on this research will be essential to ensuring that people can remain in their communities, connected to their identity, families and culture. We are proud to support this important work by NWAC, and excited to see this project is coming to fruition.

The housing design framework includes culturally appropriate features such as accommodating the needs of larger families and multigenerational living, windows on all sides and skylights for natural light, a central gathering area, free-standing round wood stove with a dining table around it, an open kitchen concept and an exterior attached storage shed. The design also incorporates sustainable features such as solar panels on the roof, rain collectors and a greenhouse leading to the rear yard. It also factors in accessibility with elements such as wider entrances and affordable features such as exceeding recommended minimum insulation requirements to reduce heating and cooling costs. The next step is for NWAC to secure funding to develop and test a prototype of this housing model.


Stories continue below

Print this page

Related Stories