Background Content


Final Report of the Advisory Committee on Homelessness, 2018

March 27, 2019

7.1 Addressing Indigenous homelessness

Indigenous Peoples are significantly over-represented among Canada’s homeless population as a result of colonization. This issue should be reflected in Homelessness Partnering Strategy funding and policies.
Overall, statistics show that the rate of shelter use for Indigenous Peoples is 10 times higher than for non-Indigenous people. When compared with rates of shelter use by non-Indigenous people, shelter use is 20 times higher for Indigenous seniors, and 13 times higher for Indigenous adults. 32% of Indigenous shelter users were female compared to 23.5% of non Indigenous shelter users.

The percentage of shelter users who report Indigenous ancestry varied widely by community, from less than 5% in some suburban communities to over 90% in many northern communities. In each of the communities where data is available, Indigenous Peoples are over-represented in homeless shelters compared to the general population. Given that the National Shelter Study only included emergency shelters in the homeless systems, this is certainly an underestimation of Indigenous homelessness in Canada.


7.1.1 The Committee recommends that Employment and Social Development Canada establish an advisory panel of Indigenous service providers, people with lived experience of homelessness, youth and jurisdictional experts to provide the program with input and advice on an ongoing basis.
7.1.2 The Committee recommends for the Indigenous stream that the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness definition for Indigenous homelessness be used as the program is designed and delivered.Footnote 16
7.1.3 The Committee recommends that the Indigenous funding stream be increased, that this stream be Indigenous-led, designed and delivered, and that a gender lens be applied in this process.
7.1.4 The Committee recommends that all Homelessness Partnering Strategy directives be reviewed through an Indigenous cultural lens and that Indigenous-led and designed training and cultural capacity programming be identified as a key component of funding agreements for all other funding streams.
7.1.5 All non-Indigenous streams are accountable for ensuring cultural competency for those agencies serving Indigenous Peoples.