So here I am at the 16th Annual National Urban Aboriginal Housing Conference in Ottawa! I am excited to be here amongst the likes of Senator Art Eggleton, author of In From the Margins: A Call to Action on Poverty, Housing and Homelessness, Libby Davies, who introduced Bill C-304, an Act to ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians, to the House of Commons, and Patrick Reid, who was featured in the award winning documentary Something to eat, a place to sleep and someone who gives a damn!
I'm here representing the CHRN in hopes of garnering support for the development of a national Aboriginal Homelessness Research Network. This network will bring together researchers and those interested in research related to homelessness and Aboriginal populations. The objectives are to:
a) create stronger connections between researchers and those who use research;
b) build research capacity in the area of Aboriginal homelessness;
c) strengthen the network for the dissemination of research in Aboriginal communities; and
d) create conditions whereby research on Aboriginal homelessness contributes to solutions to homelessness.
There are many people all over the world researching, writing and producing knowledge on homelessness and poverty-related issues. There is also a growing body of research in Canada and elsewhere that focuses on homelessness from the perspectives of Aboriginal populations. However, this research is often difficult to find, and one could argue that the links between the researchers and those who use the research are fairly weak.
Given the profound impact homelessness has on Aboriginal communities, it's important that we find ways to develop the capacity of Aboriginal researchers, students, and leaders to frame the questions around research needs, policy development and systematic responses to homelessness within these communities. These responses must be relevant and meaningful, and provide effective solutions to ending the pervasive homelessness which exists throughout the country for many Aboriginal communities.
It's thus the goal of the CHRN to enhance the efforts of individuals, institutions and networks engaged in Aboriginal homelessness and housing research through increasing institutional support for collaboration, and by providing opportunities to create new linkages and activities.
As I said, I am very excited to be here, as I've already mobilized interest from folks at the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network, the National Aboriginal Health Organization and the Mental Health Commission of Canada. I'm confident interest will only grow as the days wear on!
If you are interested in being part of a national Aboriginal Homelessness Research Network and want to help set the agenda, please feel free to be in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
Allyson Marsolais, Project Coordinator for the Canadian Homelessness Research Network, has a Masters Degree in Critical Disability Studies from York University and has been working in the social justice field for over 5 years.