By Marc Lalonde
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The federal government announced earlier this week it would take a stab at helping solve the housing crisis that has plagued many Indigenous communities across Canada by investing in 178 new shelter and transitional housing units at a total cost of more than $100 million.
The investment is being touted as urgent.
The investment will `address the urgent need for new shelters and transitional housing for First Nations, Inuit and **>Metis<** across the country who are experiencing family and gender-based violence. The shelters and transitional homes will be located on reserve, in the North, and in urban areas, and will offer survivors a stable environment when they need it most,’ the government said.
The 178 units will go to Heiltsuk First Nation in British Columbia, Dena Tha’ First Nation in Alberta, Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation in Saskatchewan, Cross Lake First Nation, Fisher River Cree Nation and Sapotaweyak Cree Nation Tataskweyak Cree Nation, and Winnipeg, Manitoba; Beausoleil First Nation, Pikangikum First Nation, Fort Frances Tribal Area, Garden River First Nation, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation, and Fort Albany First Nation in Ontario. Units will also go to the Northern Village of Puvirnituq (Transitional Home and shelter) and Montagnais de Pakua Shipi in Quebec. They’ll also be received in the municipality of Sanikiluaq, Nunavut, in Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick, in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Stephenville, Newfoundland.
The government indicated the projects would be Indigenous-led and would offer `access to support programming to help survivors of family and gender-based violence access culturally appropriate services to recover from the trauma of their experiences.’
Federal Indigenous Services minister Patty Hajdu said these shelters and transition homes would provide a crucial safe space for those in need of shelter.
“Shelters and transition homes play a crucial role in providing a safe space and stability for those fleeing violence, and access to essential community services. Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQI+ people all face increased rates of violence in our country, and Indigenous families and children continue to bear the weight of intergenerational trauma caused by colonization and systems that remain racist and discriminatory,” she said. “With this investment announced today by the federal government, 178 new Indigenous shelter and transitional housing units will be available through 22 projects in 21 communities. This funding is not only for construction but also operational support. This is just one action of many needed, as we must do more and do more, faster to end the national crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQI+ people, and undoing generational harms.”
Funding for the projects will come from different government agencies — $81 million will come from Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation for the construction, $15 million from Indigenous Services Canada for ongoing operational support of the units, and ISC will provide $7.8 million to support start up costs for operations.
Federal Crown-Indigenous Relations minister Marc Miller called the investment a meaningful one. “Everyone in Canada deserves to feel safe and be safe, wherever they are,” he said. “Funding for these Indigenous-led shelters will offer real security for Indigenous women and girls in vulnerable situations, and is another meaningful step in responding to the MMIWG Calls for Justice.
Through concrete actions and following the guidance of Indigenous partners, we will develop a system that protects Indigenous women and ends this national crisis.”
Marc Lalonde/ Local Journalism Initiative Reporter/IORI:WASE/ LJi is a federally funded program