While there are some housing issues shared by Indigenous communities, each community has unique challenges in developing, constructing, and maintaining an adequate housing supply. Indigenous women face these challenges in an even more unique way.
Racialized violence disproportionately affects Indigenous women and girls in Canada. Housing issues are a contributing factor to the lack of safety and security for many Indigenous women. Insufficient accessible shelter and affordable housing options for Indigenous women leave them and their children in abusive situations, especially in remote, rural and Northern communities. Indigenous women are 3.5 times more likely than non-Indigenous women to experience violence, with rates of intimate partner violence three times higher than non-Indigenous women.1
Compared to non-Indigenous women, Indigenous women are more likely to be unemployed or earn lower income.3 They are also more likely to experience hidden homelessness, implying they are in precarious, temporary, transitional or over-crowded housing situations without adequate, permanent and safe conditions.
Colonization, patriarchy and the effects of intergenerational trauma shape Indigenous women’s experiences of homelessness and housing insecurity. Any approach to address these impacts must recognize the complex social, historical, economic and legislative issues that contribute to these experiences.
Housing and living conditions are a critical factor in health and wellbeing. Recognizing the importance of safe and appropriate home, the Government of Canada developed in 2017 the first ever National Housing Strategy in which improving Indigenous housing was identified as a priority. Overcrowding, the presence of mold, and lack of safe drinking water in the home all increase the risk of infectious and chronic disease and have a detrimental effect on mental health.