VIU’s First Nations Housing Manager Certificate program trains housing managers who work with on-reserve housing. The training program was developed with initial financial support from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
The program, designed to be completed in two years while students are still working, is made up of six online courses that help managers maintain affordable, healthy, high-quality and well-maintained housing in their communities.
Housing managers on First Nations reserves are responsible for managing the community’s rental housing stock. They take care of rental housing maintenance and renovations, collect rent, make sure mortgages are covered, create policies around housing, and manage tenants and any new building initiatives. VIU offers the only online program accessible to learners across the country.
The program is taught by Frank French, who himself graduated in 2018.
“After nearly 20 years working in housing on reserves, I realized that with all the problems, challenges and successes I had over the years, I often felt like I was alone,” he said. “It was this program that helped me realize that I was not alone and that other housing managers faced similar challenges. Now, as an educator/facilitator for the First Nations Housing Manager program, I am still learning from students across the country.
Three former students tell how the program is helping them in their careers.
Assemble all the pieces of the puzzle
Sharon Mckay decided to enroll in VIU’s First Nations Housing Management Program after accepting the housing management position at her nation, Simpcw First Nation.
“To be the best at my job, I knew I needed training in certain areas,” she says. “Throughout the program, I was able to work at my own pace. The best part was the encouragement from staff and students from across Canada. They were able to share the challenges and successes they were encountering in their housing portfolios for the rest of us to learn from. »
The program helped Sharon “put together all the pieces of the puzzle” that were needed to be successful in her job and covered everything housing managers need to know to build homes from start to finish, including finances, budgeting, hiring contractors, funding partnerships and much more. After.
“This program has been the best tool for my success and my continued role in housing. Every housing staff member should complete this program. Education is so important for individuals to be the best they can be.
Sharon is now the Project Coordinator for Housing Resource Services, supporting 33 bands in interior BC. His dream is to see the completion of all First Nations housing and to have secure housing for band members throughout British Columbia.
Communicate effectively with citizens
As Housing Manager for the Tla’amin Nation on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast, Andrea Paul is grateful to the First Nations Housing Manager Program for providing her with the tools and skills to communicate effectively and facilitate changes within the administration to citizens.
“Change can be difficult, especially when there is no community involvement or education about the changes being made,” she explains. “The program taught me what to look for when considering new construction and how to build homes that are sustainable and suitable for First Nations lifestyles.”
Andrea loved being able to exchange ideas with First Nations communities across Canada throughout the program, as she found herself learning from situations shared by other students in similar circumstances. Its goal is to create policies that protect both the members of the Tla’amin Nation and the administration.
“Rebuilding relationships with community members is of the utmost importance to me, and for that we need to have transparent communication and consultation with our citizens as we make these important developments,” she says. “My dream is to create sustainable, healthy and safe living spaces for members of our community – homes that are energy efficient and include citizens in the building process to instill a sense of pride; homes they love and respect.
Inspirational continuing education
Ray Stebbins, Superintendent of Building Maintenance for Eel River Bar First Nation, is grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in the First Nations Housing Management Program, as he realized early on the requirements of training required for his position. He was pleasantly surprised at how positively his education was viewed by Nation members, and he is now enrolled in further vocational training in housing.
“After completing the program, I realized I could do anything I wanted,” he says. “It was a positive experience, the instructors helped us stay on track, the communication was excellent. I appreciated the personal contact via email for any issues I encountered.”