The northern communities way of living has drastically changed in the past 20 years. In terms of housing, the Aboriginals used to build igloos in the winter for their home and built tents in the summer, they hunted their food and ate it raw and made blubber lamps to build fire for cooking, for heat. The blubber lamps are made from animal blubber, dried grass on a stone bowl. Once the years past technology changed the meaning of space.

Now, in many communities, there aren’t enough housing units for each family, leading to multiple generations living in one home. This normally wouldn’t be an issue, but the houses generally aren’t large enough to accommodate all the people living in it. If there is not enough space for people, this results in overcrowding, which causes one to be prone to certain diseases. On top of overcrowding, many homes are also in need of repair. Especially in northern communities, the houses are usually built quickly and don’t always meet needs of families. Houses built in the north aren’t always structurally made to withstand the shifting and weather conditions that occur in those environments.

Another issue is hidden homelessness - hidden homelessness occurs when individuals are, in fact, without a home, but are not counted as “homeless” because they are not seen living on the streets. In northern Canada climate is extremely cold all year, which makes it impossible for anyone to live on the street.

Background & Context

  • When the reserve system was created, the main goal was to segregate First Nations people from the general population
    • This was a government sanctioned displacement of First Nations and still has an impact on the living conditions of First Nations people who live on reserve
    • It was the federal government's responsibility to provide basic services, including proper and safe housing
  • Houses were not built to endure weather conditions in many northern communities, or fit the average family size for First Nations people
    • This results in overcrowding, poor housing conditions, mold, and other housing issues

Who is affected?

  • Remote Indigenous communities, any Indigenous person that is living in unimaginable conditions, and Indigenous children taken away from families due to these living conditions

Who is making change?

  • Chief and Council
  • Prime Minister
  • Cabinet Ministers
  • Political Parties: New Democratic Party, Conservative Party, Green Party, Liberal Party
    • AFN-Perry Bellegarde, ITK-Natan Obed, MNC-Clement Chartier
    • Legislative Committees
    • Elders

-> What is being done now?

The Federal Government National Housing Strategy was released on November 22, 2017.

First Nations are leading the development of a First Nations National Housing and Infrastructure Strategy to ensure the future of housing and infrastructure reform is envisioned from a First Nations perspective. Moving forward, the Government of Canada and First Nations will continue to work together to co-develop a new policy framework for housing and infrastructure reform that moves toward a long term approach, that will support First Nations care, control and management of housing and infrastructure that will address the needs of First Nations people living on and off reserve.

According to the government, since April 2016, 427 Indigenous communities have been provided with training, 3,699 Home renovations, 653 Internship for First Nation and Inuit Youth.

2017 federal budget

  • $300 million for northern housing
  • $225 million for a new Indigenous off-reserve housing program
  • $200 to make surplus federal lands and buildings available for affordable housing
  • $241 million to improve housing data collection and analytics.
  • Budget 2016 included $10.4 million over three years for the construction of five new shelters for victims of family violence on reserve, delivered through CMHC.
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