Since FNHIC-BC’s conception, it was made clear that our definition of housing and infrastructure includes the most pivotal aspect of our communities, our members. This led us to define equity, diversity, and inclusivity from the First Nations and communities’ perspective. Throughout the Phase 3 Engagement Strategies, we heard too many stories about how diverse members of the First Nations communities of British Columbia were shunned and not supported in their effort in securing a safe place for themselves to live comfortably or to raise their families. As an overarching leader in providing new models of First Nations housing and infrastructure services in BC, we believe that leading through our values, including equity, diversity, and inclusivity, will allow the communities we represent to grow and prosper. Please note: while FNHIC-BC understands and recognizes that each BC First Nation community will have its own and unique perspectives, efforts, barriers, and/or strategies related to garnering equity, diversity, and inclusivity in the delivery of their housing and infrastructure services, these definitions and upcoming available resources will provide communities with a comprehensive guide to ensure their community members are put first in their delivery of housing and infrastructure services.
Equity ensures that all community members have access to the resources and supports they need regarding housing and infrastructure. Equality is the idea that everyone is allotted equal services and support; equity ensures that community members are accommodated to ensure equal access to housing and infrastructure services. An example of equal versus equitable service would be to have one bus stop in your community that transports all people to and from the nearest point of interest or service center (equal access), compared to having multiple stops throughout the community that ensures all community members have the same average distance to walk to the closest stop to their home (equitable access). A community that provides equitable housing and infrastructure services is open to providing services in the manner needed for its members to thrive.
Diversity refers to the many ways we are different from each other. No matter how big or small a community, no community consists of one homogenous group of people (for example, all-male, First Nations, and tall individuals with similar hobbies). We are all very different from each other. We differ in our minds, bodies, and spirits, leading to our various tastes or preferences, identities, motivations, and goals. Differences comprehensively include race, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, religion, culture, spirituality, economic class, job occupation, hobbies, education, age, gender identity or expression, sexual identity or expression, marital status, mental and/or physical ability, and/or learning styles. A diverse community garners support for all community members, no matter their characteristics. A diverse community honours its members for their differences and places value in each community member and group within its community. A diverse community embraces each other and knows that differences don’t divide their members; they make them stronger and more diverse.
Inclusivity is the ideology that communities embrace and support their members, regardless of their differences. Inclusive communities welcome their members to be a part of their culture and processes and explicitly welcomes historically excluded community members into their processes. An inclusive community garners a sense of safety for all its members to express themselves, talk through their differences, and provide them equitable housing and infrastructure supports and services to reach their unique potentials. An inclusive community doesn’t exclude elders, youth, women, 2S+, homeless, diverse ability, and so on, members of its community; it knows it is more efficient and productive because of them.