This is a guest post by Dr. Sylvia Olsen. I recently attended a talk organized by Civil Engineering students at UVIc on the topic of housing on First Nations reserves in Canada. Before this, my only knowledge of on-reserve housing came from driving by on the highway and noticing the poor state of it, as well as the occasional news story that bubbles through the noise. Listening to Sylvia’s passionate and insightful summary of her PhD research opened my eyes to the root causes of the current crisis and the appalling history of the system that created it.
While outside the normal topic of discussion on this blog, I believe this is an issue we should all be more educated about and I strongly encourage you to take the time to watch the video of Sylvia’s talk below. It really puts the housing issues we are all bombarded with every day into perspective.
Dr. Sylvia Olsen presents a paper on her PhD dissertation titled “Making Poverty: A history of government housing programs on reserves, 1930-1996.”
Sylvia currently teaches on-reserve housing management at Vancouver Island University. She has lived on Tsartlip First Nation for most of her adult life; her children and grandchildren continue to live in the community. She has worked in the field of on-reserve housing for decades in many capacities from housing and construction management, to curriculum development and policy analysis. Sylvia believes there are two fundamental principles involved in finding solutions to any problem: first, you must understand the problem and second, the intensity of the solution must match the intensity of the problem. Her work enables Canadians to understand on-reserve housing in a new way. Her hope is that it will help shift public impressions and influence policy going forward.
Making Poverty on Vimeo