Canadian Indigenous housing expert features at NHC 2019

Margaret Pfoh leads the first Canadian not-for-profit Indigenous housing association

13 May 2019

Ms Margaret Pfoh, CEO of the Canadian Aboriginal Housing Management Association (AHMA), will present an important International keynote address at the National Housing Conference (NHC) in Darwin later this year, highlighting the successes and methods of expanding Indigenous housing programs.

Ms Pfoh has great experience in building up Indigenous housing programs in Canada: she is Tsimshian from the Eagle Clan of the Gitga'at First Nation, and brings more than 22 years of housing management experience to her role as CEO of the AHMA. Her keen insights will inspire individuals, organisations and governments providing housing for Indigenous people across Australia.

The AHMA is a not-for-profit Indigenous housing authority made up of 41 housing provider organisation in British Columbia, and represents the housing interests of over 5000 families living off-reserve in urban, rural, and remote areas. The AHMA was created in the early 1990s by Indigenous communities and is a partner with the Provincial Government.

Ms Pfoh is working towards better housing outcomes for northern, rural, and urban First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples.

During Ms Pfoh’s time as longstanding CEO of Mamele’awt Qweesome/To’o Housing Society (MQHS), her team spearheaded the creation of an Urban Village concept—a full-spectrum rental housing concept, rooted in indigenous culture and welcoming to the whole community. In addition, she increased the MQHS portfolio fivefold and implemented many support programs to help Indigenous families on the road to self-sufficiency.

Currently, Ms Pfoh is also on the board of the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association (CHRA), which works closely with the national Canadian Government to incorporate an Indigenous housing strategy as part of the $55+ billion ($58 billion AUD) 10-year Canadian National Housing Strategy.

The 2019 NHC is keen to explore the challenges for housing for Australia’s indigenous communities, and the Canadian National Housing Strategy can suggest ways forward for Australian organisations providing Indigenous housing. Similar to Australia, Canada is a federation of 10 Provinces and 3 Territories under a national Government. The Strategy is based on the national Government working with the Provinces and Territories, who currently provide 80 per cent of social housing.

As a member of the Indigenous Housing Caucus, Ms Pfoh is working towards better housing outcomes for northern, rural, and urban First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples. Advice and recommendations developed by the Caucus are represented and actioned by CHRA’s Indigenous Housing Caucus Working Group. This Group provides Indigenous perspectives on emerging national housing and homelessness issues, as well as providing advocacy support and proposing research projects exploring various facets of Indigenous housing and homelessness.

The keynote address will be an excellent opportunity for delegates to learn how Canada’s First Peoples are improving housing outcomes, and be a real stimulus for all working in Australia to build solutions for our comparable housing challenges.

Early bird registrations for NHC 2019 close at the end of May and the program is available at the NHC website.