Rendering of the “Sohkeyah” housing project, which will be operated by Kekinow Native Housing Society. (Submitted photos)

Rendering of the “Sohkeyah” housing project, which will be operated by Kekinow Native Housing Society. (Submitted photos)

Indigenous housing project breaks ground in Surrey

Kekinow Native Housing Society’s project will create 176 new affordable rental homes for Indigenous people in Surrey

An affordable housing project for Indigenous people in Surrey broke ground on Monday.

“It’s a new beginning to an era of Indigenous housing,” said Shelly Hill, CEO of Kekinow Native Housing Society, which will operate the facility. “It’s also an opportunity to showcase the need.”

Hill noted Surrey’s Aboriginal population exceeds that of Vancouver’s, and “there is a definite need for more housing in Surrey. It’s instrumental that there is more affordable housing opportunities for seniors, youth and families.”

The project has been in the works for five years, she revealed.

“It’s very exciting,” said Hill. “We’ve been waiting a long time for this so to see it come to light, and to have the opportunity to carry it through, the vision that was set by founding members, is definitely an honour.”

See also: Report finds Surrey’s Aboriginal population is growing, young and underserved

homelessphoto

(From left: Surrey-Fleetwood MLA Jagrup Brar, Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner, Kekinow CEO Shelly Hill, Kekinow President Dr. June Laitar, Kekinow VP Patricia Reid and Surrey-Newton MP Sukh Dhaliwal. Photo: Submitted.)

The project is a redevelopment of Kekinow’s existing housing project at 7561 140th St., that has 33 existing townhomes which, as Hill explained, “no longer meet the demands of family composition.”

The redevelopment will mean a mix of bachelor, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units, to serve youth aging out care, small families and elders.

Monday’s groundbreaking marked the beginning of first of two phases of the project. In all, the project will replace the existing three-bedroom units with 176 new rental homes.

The new housing development will be named “Sohkeyah,” meaning Robin’s Nest.

Rents are projected to range from $550 to $1,300 per month.

One of the property’s current tenants is 45-year-old Mark Anthony Louis, who lives there with his wife and their four children.

“I feel it will help the future,” he told the Now-Leader, “because it’s targeted housing for elderly, people at-risk, youth who are aging out. It will benefit them because I used to be a foster kid myself and it’s kind of like a dream come true. What I wish I had is happening for other kids. They’ll have a good foothold in the ground to stand on as they become mature.”

Louis said he grew up in foster care and when he aged out, he ran away from home, living on the streets for a while.

“I treated all that great by my foster family at that time period, so when the time came that they had no power over me, I left. I lived on the streets for a bit,” he said. “But I survived. I eventually went to college and university and met my wife.”

Louis has lived in the Newton Klekinow complex since 2015 and said it was a marked improvement from his previous living conditions — both rental market housing and when he lived on reservation is Kispiox.

“It was a night and day difference from anything we’ve ever been to,” he said.

Some of his children are already adults themselves, and he hopes to see them move into the new development.

“I’m just happy for all the collection nations that are going to be addressed and that there is something out there,” said Louis. “There’s a lot of people that feel left out because of residential schools and how much that syndrome has affected our people.”

While the redevelopment means the families who live there must move, Louis said “there will be 100 families that are affected positively.”

“But it’s building, it’s constructive. It’s addressing a big need, and that’s all that matters.”

See also: VIDEO: Surrey celebrates National Aboriginal Day in Bridgeview

See also: Study reveals ‘stark’ situation for Surrey’s large, under-serviced Aboriginal population

The project has received support from the City of Surrey, with city council approving the project on Feb. 20, 2017.

“The comprehensive redevelopment of Kekinow Native Housing Society’s affordable rental housing project in Surrey is yet another example of Kekinow’s diligent efforts to ensure residents on limited incomes are given the best chance to thrive and reach their full potential,” said Mayor Linda Hepner.

She noted Kekinow has played a “critical role in providing shelter for Indigenous people” for decades.

Kekinow’s President Dr. June Laitar thanked the City of Surrey and funders for “making this become a reality.”

The federal and provincial government are together, contributing $8.5 million to the project.

Further, the federal government has committed another $442,000 through its Homelessness Partnering Strategy, and the provincial government is providing a loan of up to $8.1 million to help with construction financing.

“Our government is investing in affordable housing in British Columbia and across the country to help create jobs and improve the quality of life for people who need it most,” said Sukh Dhaliwal, Surrey-Newton MP, in a release. “When complete, this first phase of development will bring 73 much-needed affordable rental housing units to Surrey—a new place to call home for Indigenous families in this community.”

See also: Sweating it out: Inside an Aboriginal recovery home in Surrey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

White Rock Rotary Club president Mauricio Browne de Paula (front right) with other club and community volunteers at the launch of the free hot lunch program at the city parking lot at Russell Avenue and Johnston Road on May 21. (File photo)
Daily demand for White Rock Rotary, city lunch program surpasses 40

Recipients ‘are very good people… going through some tough times’

Surrey Fire Service responded to a fire in the industrial area of 192nd street and 54th Avenue early Saturday morning (Jan. 23, 2021). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Surrey crews respond to fire in industrial area

Fire happened early Saturday morning

Students at Creekside Elementary in Surrey wrote letters to seniors over the holidays, and are planning to write more for Valentine’s Day and Family Day. (Photo: surreyschools.ca)
Surrey elementary students connect with seniors through letter writing

Creekside students planning to send more cards for Valentine’s Day

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Police called to Surrey home for report of weapon, man taken into custody

Surrey RCMP say people evacuated from house, one found in a bedroom ‘hiding from police’

Judy and Ken Reid share a smile at Peace Arch Hospital in 2018. Judy raised concerns last month about how the COVID-19 vaccine would be rolled out. Now, she says no one is telling residents or families when they will start to see restrictions ease. (Contributed photo)
Timeline for reduced restrictions in long-term care a concern for spouse of South Surrey senior

‘We’re not yet at that point,’ says provincial health officer

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

sd
VIDEO: Mission drag racer scores 1st career win, sets world record, makes history in 2020

Justin Bond, founder and owner of JBS Equipment Mission, has break-out year

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

Giants defenceman Bowen Byram has recorded his first NHL career point (Rob Wilton/special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Vancouver Giants Bowen Byram records first NHL career point with Colorado Avalanche

Player with Langley-based WHL franchise assisted on goal against the Ducks

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Most Read