Seeking solutions for the homeless
In order to find a solution to the homelessness crisis in Inuvik, Julia Christensen figured she had to start with the people living on the streets and in the shelters.
"I want people to understand the firsthand experience of those who are homeless in Inuvik," Christensen said. "A lot of people don't know. There are so many different reasons and stories. Homelessness is not something to demonize, and it's becoming increasingly demonized."
The McGill University student's PhD thesis, Homeless in a Homeland, was a three-year study of homelessness and housing in the North. Much of it centres on anecdotal research from interviews with homeless people mostly in Inuvik and Yellowknife.
Christensen, who was born and raised in Yellowknife, is currently writing a comprehensive account of homelessness in the Northwest Territories.
Her work was recognized two years ago when she was among 15 scholars in the country to win a Trudeau Foundation Doctoral Scholarship. The money from the award has helped fund her research.
The researcher shared some of her findings March 25 at Aurora Research Institute in a presentation to a handful of people working with the town's homeless, including RCMP officers, shelter workers and the Gwich'in Tribal Council's vice-president. She was looking for feedback from the community.
Setting the foundation of her presentation, Christensen said the territorial government refuses to admit homelessness and a lack of housing are territory-wide issues, not just specific to Yellowknife and Inuvik.
"The reality is that most people that are homeless in Inuvik come from other places," she said in her presentation.
Through her research, Christensen discovered people who had been using shelters as a permanent residence.
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April 5, 2010