Reserve residences offer residents the opportunity to live in a community that is welcoming and supportive, while enjoying the benefits of a university experience. They provide students with a place to study, socialize, and engage in community service work, while being close to campus.
Many First Nations, governed by treaties with the Canadian government, own and manage reserves. These lands are protected by law and are often administered by local governments, although the federal government also administers reserve programs and policies.
These lands are often located in remote areas with limited access to economic and environmental resources. Because of this, many reserves have a low population density. Moreover, reserves are not a good fit for urban life because of their lack of services, such as public transportation.
Despite these challenges, many people in reserves still find the experience of living on reserve to be enriching. This may be because reserves have a unique culture that has been preserved by generations of Aboriginal peoples, or it could be because these communities have developed strong connections with each other and are culturally resilient.
The socio-economic conditions on many Canadian reserves are complex, and the reasons are complicated, but it is widely accepted that the colonial and post-colonial policies that were imposed on Aboriginal peoples over generations have created enduring hardships that are still impacting them today. Discriminatory legislation, such as the Indian Act and the residential schools, and assimilationist programs, such as the Sixties Scoop, have all contributed to the current situation that many reserves face.
In addition to these social issues, most reserves are isolated and do not have access to a number of basic services such as electricity and running water. This is why many Aboriginal peoples prefer to live off-reserve rather than on them.
One reason for this is the high cost of housing on-reserve. This is particularly true of rural and small reserves, where the availability of affordable housing is limited.
Another issue is the inability of band members to access financing for building homes or for renovating their existing lands. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has established a number of on-reserve housing loan programs that are designed to help band members acquire loans to build and renovate their own homes.
For example, a band may enter into a trust agreement with CMHC to obtain financing for the construction of their home. This is similar to how the government provides loans for a new home in a residential neighborhood, and it allows members of the band to access these funds without having to sell their lands or forfeit their claim to the land.
In other programs, the CMHC will provide funds to bands to help them pay for land improvement projects. Some of these projects include building or repairing roads, installing public infrastructure, improving wastewater systems, and developing community facilities such as schools and hospitals.
There are also a variety of programs that support Aboriginal families and children. For example, the Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) Income Assistance Program provides financial aid to eligible individuals and families on-reserve to cover the cost of their basic needs. This program is available on a first-come, first-serve basis to eligible applicants. It is a social safety net designed to ensure that families are able to meet their basic needs and to support their transition to self-sufficiency.