We’ve provided some answers to some of your most frequently asked questions about Nenagwas and what’s planned for the future.
Have a question that isn’t answered here? Send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get you an answer as soon as we can. We’ll also add the most frequently asked questions to this page as we receive them.
Q: Why don’t the Tlowitsis live in our traditional territory?
We have a defined traditional territory north of Johnstone Strait, with 11 reserves scattered throughout the region. However, none of our current reserves are large enough to support a new community, nor have access to basic services. Our reserves are located over 350 km from the nearest service centre to which we have year-round road access. There are no amenities, schools, doctors or medical services or employment opportunities on or near these reserves. There is no electricity or potable water available on a majority of our reserves.
The cost of development on one of our current reserves would be prohibitive, as they are only accessible by water or air with the exception of one, which is on a flood plain. For these reasons and many more, we’ve decided to create the new village of Nenagwas.
Q: Why is it important for the Tlowitsis to have a village of our own?
Our people feel an emptiness that comes from not having a place to call home. Families have been separated from each other for over 50 years. For us, this land represents hope and a place to call home. In fact, as part of the community visioning process, our Elders gave the lands a name: Nenagwas (“A place to come home to”).
The acquisition and development of this land is a major step forward in re-establishing a viable, healthy Tlowitsis community that will provide opportunities, security and belonging for our members – a cohesive community that we have been without for far too long. The wish of the Tlowitsis people is simple: to live in harmony with our environment and our neighbours.
Q: Do you expect all of your members to move to Nenagwas in the future?
Every citizen will be welcome in Nenagwas. Having said that, the majority of our members live in Campbell River, Victoria and Metro Vancouver, and we also have a number of members living in other communities across Canada, and even in other countries. We do not expect all of our citizens to move home, but estimate that between 100 and 150 of our members will choose to live here over the next 10 to 20 years.
Q: What kind of economic development and job creation plans do you have?
While we have no firm plans at this early stage, economic opportunities pursued along York Road could include cottage industries, artisans or small shops. We plan to manage some of the timber on the property, as well. We also expect there to be job opportunities for Tlowitsis citizens during the construction stage of the project.
Q: What are the Tlowitsis’ development plans for the property?
The Tlowitsis people want to live in a healthy environment, in a place that’s close to work and schools for our children, and to dream as other people do. Our hope is for a sustainable community that provides housing, an administrative office, a day school, a Council hall, and a recreational and sports area.
The York Road property consists of approximately 635 acres, which is roughly the total area of downtown Campbell River. Our concept is to develop 20 to 30 acres (three to five per cent of the total acreage) to establish a housing community of 75 homes over the next 30 years. Most local residents living in the surrounding area would not be able to see the development from York Road.
Q: How did the Tlowitsis come up with a vision and concept for the property?
Tlowtsis citizens have been active participants in the visioning and planning for Nenagwas, and have communicated with Council about what they want to see for their future and the future of their children: a clean, green and sustainable community.
To develop an initial vision of our community, we held a series of two-day workshops between August 2012 and July 2014. Approximately 10 workshops were held; all focused on the Nenagwas proposal and related community capacity building. In the community visioning process, citizens told us they would like to have community gardens for vegetables and fruit trees, and a place where they can learn their culture, history and language from their own people, and in particular, from the few Elders we have left. The Tlowitsis people want to live in a healthy environment, to live close to work and schools for their children, and to dream as other people do.
The community visioning process led to the completion of a schematic (or concept) plan for Nenagwas in May 2015. Some of the concept illustrations created from that process are available to view on our website. While formal planning for Nenagwas hasn’t been completed yet, the concept plan gives us a sense of the kind of community we’re trying to create at Nenagwas.
We’ll update this website regularly as more information and resources become available, so please check back frequently.
Q: What’s the process for development?
Formal development planning for the community began in the spring of 2018, with a feasibility study process that we expect to be complete by December 2018. We will be consulting Tlowitsis citizens for their input during this stage of the project.
After the feasibility study is complete, we’ll move forward with the design phase for the new community.
Q: When will construction of Nenagwas begin construction?
Assuming that the feasibility study completes on time, and that we qualify for funding for the design and construction funding, we expect to break ground and begin construction in the summer of 2020.
Q: Who will pay for construction of homes and infrastructure on the property?
We expect that funding and financing for each of these pieces will come from a number of sources, including our own revenue.
In terms of housing funding, we will apply for housing subsidies for some of our members, while other members may seek their own financing for home construction. We may also apply for community housing programs for our elderly members.
The Tlowitsis will also apply for infrastructure as well as operation and maintenance funding through INAC. Infrastructure funding will be secured on behalf of the entire community.
Q: Will Tlowitsis citizens be able to build our own houses on the property?
While we can’t speak in specifics at this early stage, we do expect that citizens will be able to build their own homes if they so choose, a long as they’re consistent with the community plan and related community bylaws. This will be clearly defined in the housing policy, which we are currently developing.
Q: How many houses will we build on the property? When would they be built?
We are estimating that we will build between 75 and 100 homes on the property in the coming years. However, construction of this many homes is expected to take anywhere from 10 to 30 years, depending on the housing needs of our members.