Kanata is the Iroquoian word for village and the origin of the name of Canada. The Kanata Festival embodies a profound concept to promote increased understanding of and reconciliation with Canada’s First People: to Rename, Reclaim, Reconcile.

The lead on the Kanata Festival is Vancouver Native Housing Society (VNHS), a non-profit housing provider governed by an all-Aboriginal Board of Directors that owns or operates 18 buildings on Vancouver’s Eastside. While traditionally VNHS focused on the housing needs of the urban Indigenous population, they now provide housing for seniors, youth, women at risk, persons living with mental illness, and the homeless and homeless-at-risk populations.

As the Canada 150 celebrations take place, an affordability crisis looms large in the minds of Canadians and in too many areas it is the number one concern for most citizens. The lack of affordable housing is a problem for Canadians in general and for Indigenous people in particular.

VNHS believes that it is appropriate for one of the most challenged and marginalized groups in our country to focus on housing during Canada’s Sesquicentennial. Using the iconic housing archetypes of the First Peoples of Canada as the stage for sharing the Indigenous experience the Kanata Festival will put housing in a new light.

Vancouver Native Housing Society’s first Canadian Heritage funded project, ‘Looking Forward Looking Back’ (LFLB) was the seed from which grew the ‘Community Building through the Transformative Power of Art’ model. Those few words, Looking Forward Looking Back, speak to a principle that is particularly relevant at this time in history. Where are we as a Nation, how did we get here and where are we going? These questions are of particular importance when looked at through an Indigenous lens.