Twelve units of affordable housing, dedicated to Indigenous Elders, officially opened in Calgary on Monday.
The Indigenous Elders’ Lodge is located in the community of Highland Park in northwest Calgary and offers residents, safe, affordable housing, along with cultural gathering spaces for teaching and ceremonies.
The project was led by the Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary (AFCC).
“This will not just be a building, but a safe space for Indigenous seniors who are ‘vulnerable’ or ‘at-risk’ and have likely experienced discrimination, abuse, exclusion and hardship,” said AFCC CEO, Shane Gauthier.
The $6 million project has a solar energy system that will produce 14,156 kilowatt hours of energy, reducing the location’s carbon footprint. The project was funded by the Government of Alberta, the Calgary Homeless Foundation, the Calgary Foundation, and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
The City of Calgary provided the land at below-market value and expedited approvals for the project.
“This building represents not only a physical structure but a symbol of our city’s commitment to inclusivity, cultural diversity and respect for our Indigenous Elders,” said Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek in a prepared release.
“Ensuring that Elders can age with dignity and grace while remaining connected to their cultural roots is a milestone in our journey towards a more harmonious and inclusive Calgary.”
Recently, Calgary city council approved a new housing strategy, and with it was a commitment to provide more affordable housing to Indigenous Calgarians. In February, the City of Calgary announced $6 million to help fund urban Indigenous housing projects.
The province said that the new facility adds to a growing number of Indigenous-led projects through the Indigenous Housing Capital Program.
“By providing not only safe and affordable places to live but also a variety of cultural activities and supports, the Elders’ Lodge promises to be yet another shining example of the effectiveness of Indigenous-led solutions,” said Alberta Minister of Indigenous Relations, Rick Wilson.
“Alberta will continue to support solutions that are shaped by Indigenous communities because we understand that Indigenous cultures and values must shine through in order for our joint efforts to be successful.”