Québec City, November 27, 2020. – In an effort to improve access to education for First Nations students, Danielle McCann, Minister of Higher Education, and Ian Lafrenière, Minister Responsible for Indigenous Affairs, have announced that $18.4 million in financial assistance will be granted to the Société immobilière of the Regroupement des centres d’amitié autochtones du Québec (SIRCAAQ) to support the building of three student housing centres.
This partnership with the SIRCAAQ, funded under the $200 million envelope announced in the 2020-2021 budget intended to respond to the recommendations of the CERP (Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Québec) and NIMMIWG (National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls) commissions, will cement the construction of two housing centres, one in Trois‑Rivières and the other in Sept-Îles. Work on these centres will begin in spring 2021, with the official opening slated for August 2022. A third centre, in a location to be determined in collaboration with the Indigenous partners, should be ready to welcome its first students for the fall 2025 term.
The construction of these housing centres will facilitate access to housing that is safe and meets students’ needs, thus helping to eliminate the obstacles that keep members of the First Nations from pursuing their studies. In addition to affordable housing, tenants and their families will be offered integrated, culturally-relevant services intended to encourage them to stay in school, to foster their educational success and to make the resumption or continuation of their studies a great experience for their entire family.
“One of my priorities is to make higher education accessible to all, and I am pleased that the initiatives announced today will facilitate this access for young Indigenous people. The creation of these housing centres will help smooth these students’ pathway to that same end—educational success. The activities offered in parallel will encourage Indigenous students to stay in school and develop their full potential.”
Danielle McCann, Minister of Higher Education
“Thanks to the initiative announced today, we will be able to provide adult learners and Indigenous students with safe accommodations that meet their needs so that they can concentrate on their studies. At the same time, these community settings will reduce the feelings of isolation and loneliness experienced by students who attend large urban educational institutions. I hope that in these new facilities, with appropriate services and support, and surrounded by their families, the students will flourish in a setting that is conducive to the pursuit of studies and will achieve all the success they deserve.”
Ian Lafrenière, Minister Responsible for Indigenous Affairs
“I am convinced that the strategic location of the housing units will encourage Indigenous students to pursue their studies in the institutions of higher learning in my region. As you know, education lies at the core of the economic recovery plan. To meet this challenge, we need a next generation that is young and diverse. The accessible nature of the housing centre and the entire range of services associated with it are key factors in educational success and help create a sense of security for students when choosing a place to study.”
Jean Boulet, Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity and Minister Responsible for the Mauricie Region
“I am very happy that our government is supporting the construction of a housing centre for Indigenous students in Sept-Îles, in a northern region. Students who continue to pursue their studies and achieve educational success are essential for the creation of a skilled workforce north of the 49th parallel, just as it is for elsewhere in Québec. To promote training for the people of the North Shore is to take another step to further the long-term socioeconomic development of the region and the well-being of the northern and Indigenous communities.”
Jonatan Julien, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources and Minister Responsible for the Côte-Nord Region
“Today’s announcement is intended to help Indigenous students in Québec’s urban areas achieve educational success. This proactive measure supports an innovative approach—the creation of living environments that serve as cultural anchors. The implementation of the projects will provide for housing that is adapted to the reality of Indigenous families in which the parents are students, while providing them with a mutual assistance network, services and support. These are winning conditions that will help Indigenous learners achieve their full potential.”
Philippe Meilleur, President, Regroupement des centres d’amitié autochtones du Québec
- The agreement provides for the disbursement of an $18.4 million grant over five years, allocated from the $200 million budget envelope intended to respond to the recommendations of the different commissions (CERP and NIMMIWG). This investment is in addition to the $4.2 million funding provided under the Government Action Plan for the Social and Cultural Development of the First Nations and Inuitthat has already been used to conduct analyses related to the design of the projects.
- A development and implementation committee consisting of several stakeholders from various communities has been created for each of the target cities in order to ensure that the two initial projects are carried out in a coordinated and optimal fashion. These committees are responsible for developing and implementing the community-life projects.
- The Sept-Îles centre will offer 32 units of varying sizes, from studios to apartments with up to six and a half rooms. The building will be situated on the grounds of the Cégep de Sept-Îles.
- The Trois-Rivières centre will offer 40 units of varying sizes, also ranging from studios to apartments with up to six and a half rooms. It will be within walking distance of the university and the CEGEP.
- The location of the third pilot project is to be determined in consultation with the Indigenous partners.