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Smithers mill kicks in $100K for Indigenous housing project

West Fraser Timber’s donation to Dze L K’ant Housing Society will fund cultural elements of project

West Fraser Timber has made a $100,000 donation to support the Dze L K’ant Housing Society’s Indigenous housing project in Smithers.

It will be the society’s first affordable housing development.

The funds will enhance the cultural features of the project, as the society recognizes the importance of maintaining culture across generations. A large piece of Indigenous art for the exterior of the new building will be created, and a culturally-inspired children’s playground will be developed as well.

“Our goal is to develop housing that fosters a strong sense of cultural pride and belonging,” said Annette Morgan, executive director of the Dze L K’ant Housing Society. “This donation will allow our organization to work with a local artist to develop a meaningful carving piece for the exterior of the housing as well as unique cultural elements for our playground.”

The multi-family, 37-unit housing project will provide affordable housing for Indigenous families and elders. BC Housing is the major funder of the project, which is being developed in partnership with the Town of Smithers through a lease agreement with the municipality for land located at 1611 Main Street.

A central part of the housing design is Indigenous cultural safety, which includes accessible homes for elders, large homes to accommodate intergenerational living, a cultural amenity space and a community kitchen.

West Fraser general manger, Dean MacDonald, said his company is committed to building beneficial relationships with Indigenous groups.

“In the areas where we operate, we see our support of the Indigenous housing project’s cultural features as a meaningful investment into the local community and an important demonstration of our values,” he said.

Construction of the project is expected to begin in March 2024.

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