Skip to content

Open House event gives members opportunity to shape Chawathil’s future

Chawathil members shown plans for and provides input on community’s housing and infrastructure

Community engagement was strong and focused during Chawathil First Nation’s (CFN) Open House event as band members gave input on their community’s future.

Stakeholders and Chawathil council welcomed around 100 band members and a few guests to the CFN gymnasium on Feb. 29, to learn about upcoming plans to improve housing and infrastructure for the community. The Chawathil-members-only event, which was originally scheduled for Feb. 1, had to be rescheduled due to the passing of a CFN member.

From 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., members of Chawathil (and their guests) were able to talk to: FortisBC, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI), members of the Hope Fire Department (which included Deputy Fire Chief Joshua Westcott and former Fire Chief Tom DeSorcy), M’akola, The Nerdy Architect, Monroe Construction, Urban Systems (focused on housing and active transportation), Fraser Valley Regional District, Chawathil Land department, and Chawathil Housing department.

The District of Hope’s council was also represented at the event by Mayor Victor Smith.

During this time, band members also had the opportunity to voice their thoughts on the current state of CFN as well as provide input on what they would like Chawathil’s future to look like. Specifically, members were given a survey (which could be filled online or in-person at the event) to provide input on which things — cultural preservation, infrastructure and services, economic development, education and training, entrepreneurship support, social service and wellbeing, and sustainable economy — they wanted their government to focus on.

In total, 120 surveys were filled out and given to the Chawathil housing department and council.

“The key is that it’s (the planning) for Chawathil by Chawathil,” Chawathil Coun. Aaron Pete said. He, along with CFN Housing Manager Saje Murphy, have been at the forefront of repairing homes and providing better infrastructure for the band.

“One of the challenges I think many communities, not just First Nations, face is that they do good things but, when you don’t involve the community, it’s not really theirs (the community’s) to be proud of and to represent,” he said.

The open house event was part of CFN’s current housing project to repair the 89 houses in their community, with plans to build 30 more housing units.

Since November 2022, Pete — who is charge of the of CFN’s housing portfolio — has been working with Murphy, CFN chief and council, and band members, to improve housing for their community.

In the beginning of 2023, because of the severity of the repairs and health issues with current CFN buildings, CFN was able to obtain funding from Indigenous Service Canada and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This allowed them to repair 15 homes by the end of 2023. Since then, the band has put in a second application in June 2023, to receive funding to fix another 15 houses. There are also plans, in the near future, to submit a third application for 15 more houses to be repaired.

The open house event, Pete said, was intended to provide transparency to band members before anything else. This included transparency on potential/future plans for CFN and providing members an opportunity to engage with council in a meaningful and thoughtful way.

As such, overall, he said the event was both a success and indicative that more community engagement sessions are needed.

“We always want more community engagement and more community members to come out,” Pete said. “But overall, what we heard from everyone involved was that our community members are eager to engage, share their feedback, and insights, and help us develop our community in a collaborative way.

“As a council member, that’s pretty exciting. We need to be constantly looking for community feedback so that they can guide the decisions of leadership in a healthy way, and that we can report back.”

CFN members who missed the open house will have another opportunity to attend a similar-type event at the end of April. Band members can download Chawathil’s app to get updates and more information about current and upcoming projects/events.

READ MORE: Chawathil First Nation repairs 15 of 89 houses


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Kemone Moodley

About the Author: Kemone Moodley

I began working with the Hope Standard on August 2022.
Read more