It is NWAC’s vision that all Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people have safe and secure homes and living conditions in Canada.
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
Indigenous women’s marginalization has been institutionalized across Canadian public policies through multiple colonial practices, including the implementation of the Indian Act.2 The Act restructured societal and relational governance within Indigenous communities from one that ensured gender equality to a European patriarchal model.
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.
Using this approach, NWAC is currently working on an Indigenous Housing Report that analyzes the existing literature and engages with Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people to expand their body of literature. Through this research it is hoped that a better understanding of homelessness will be developed that can assist in decreasing housing insecurity. Indigenous women are the experts of their own lived experiences and must be fully engaged to move forward in any meaningful way.
Share three recommendations, gaps, problems, key messages or a past, present and future overlook and projection of the policy or file.
1. Consideration should be given to women who are dependent on partners for income and housing, as they may be unable to leave their situation in cases of domestic violence.
2. Women and children should have historical rights to lands. There are issues with shelters and transitioning houses, particularly related to Child and Family Services (CFS). The focus should be on securing housing to keep families together, rather than an environment where women are afraid to access shelters for fear of CFS taking their children.
3. Statistics and strategies focused on homelessness should be expanded to include housing insecure people who are living in overcrowded housing or staying with friends and family rather than in shelters or on the street.
- Burnette, C. E. (2015). “From the ground up: Indigenous women’s after violence experiences with the formal service system in the United States.” British Journal of Social Work 45(5), 1526-1545.
- Allan, B. & Smylie, J. (2015). First Peoples, Second Class Treatment: The Role of Racism in the Health and Well-being of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Toronto, ON: Wellesley Institute. Retrieved from http://ywcacanada.ca/data/research_docs/00000325.pdf. | Bird, C. (2007). Aboriginal Framework for Healing and Wellness Manual. Calgary, AB: Awo-Taan Healing Lodge Society. Retrieved from http://awotaan.org/assets/Page-Attachments/Aboriginal-FranmeworkAwo- Taan-Manual-FINAL-May-30-200.pdf. | Green, J. (2001). “Canaries in the Mines of Citizenship: Indian Women in Canada.” Canadian Journal of Political Science 34(4), 715-738. doi:10.1017/S0008423901778067. | Peters, E. J. (2006). “[W]e do not lose our treaty rights outside the … reserve: Challenging the scales of social service provision for First Nations women in Canadian cities.” GeoJournal 65(4), 315-327.
- Peters, E. J. (2006). “[W]e do not lose our treaty rights outside the … reserve: Challenging the scales of social service provision for First Nations women in Canadian cities.” GeoJournal 65(4), 315-327.
What NWAC is Doing
Background Document on Aboriginal Women and Housing
November 1, 2004
Fact Sheet - Housing
January 1, 2018