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Federal housing advocate says Indigenous people grossly overrepresented in Canada’s homeless population

February 15, 2024

APTN News: Canada’s housing advocate says a staggering number of Indigenous people are part of the country’s growing homeless population.

“Manitoba reported that in Winnipeg in 2018 two-thirds of people experiencing homelessness were Indigenous and that number climbs to 94 per cent in Thompson,” Marie-Josée Houle told Nation to Nation. “In Saskatoon an estimated 90 per cent of people experiencing homelessness are Indigenous.

“In Edmonton, it is 60 per cent and in Prince George, it’s 80 per cent. So, there’s a huge disproportionate representation of Indigenous folks experiencing homelessness in Canada.”

Houle released a new report on tent encampments across Canada this week with recommendations on how the government may tackle the problem. She has asked the Trudeau government for a response plan by Aug. 31.

The Federal Housing Advocate began working on a review of tent encampments in February of last year and talked to a number of Indigenous groups as part of her study.

Houle said one theme she heard over and over again is living spaces need be culturally appropriate.

“This means that people have the space in order to practice their culture,” she said. “If people are in more northern regions it’s about having space for their trap lines or fishing and hunting gear but it’s also being even able to smudge. Some places don’t allow people to light anything in their homes and they get evicted for it or they get threatened for it.

“It’s to have that Indigenous lens and to be able to properly provide the space for this.”

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