“Naatamooskakowin” is a Cree word meaning “a place to come to for help, shelter, or resources.”  Earlier this month, Elder Belinda Vandenbroeck gifted the name to Winnipeg’s new Indigenous-led Coordinated Access System, which provides a new way for people to connect quickly with the housing and supports they need. Naatamooskakowin offers:

  • A collaborative approach to the common goal of ending homelessness
  • Streamlined access to supports and housing for people experiencing homelessness
  • An easier way for people to connect to the supports they need to thrive in housing
  • A shared intake and assessment process across all partner agencies
  • A shared information system so that people don’t have to tell their stories over and over

Background: How Naatamooskakowin was Created

As Winnipeg’s Community Entity for Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy, End Homelessness Winnipeg was responsible for co-creating a Coordinated Access system in Winnipeg by March 31, 2022.

Winnipeg’s Coordinated Access Journey began in late 2019 with a series of 3 community engagement sessions welcoming diverse participation. The feedback from these sessions was that The 7 Teachings of Love, Respect, Courage, Honesty, Wisdom, Humility and Truth should serve as the core values guiding the Coordinated Access system. Cultural safety needs to be central to the process and the services offered, as does Harm Reduction and a trauma-informed approach. Design and implementation processes must include a diversity of Lived Experts.

In Fall 2020, the process picked up again with the establishment of an Advisory Committee, structured to reflect the stakeholder groups identified by the earlier engagement sessions. The Advisory Committee’s main goal was to establish a governance structure for co-creating Coordinated Access. The Governance Structure recommended by the Advisory Committee included the creation of a Coordinated Access Council to provide guidance on the planning of engagement and co-creation strategies to help our community develop Coordinated Access, and to provide oversight and feedback on the implementation and monitoring of Coordinated Access. This Council was formed in January 2021.

In June 2021, a community engagement session was held to identify the Vision and Outcomes for Winnipeg’s Coordinated Access system. 

Looking Ahead

Grounded in diverse Indigenous values, ways of knowing and being, Naatamooskakowin will bring all stakeholders together to achieve the common goal of creating lasting solutions that prevent and end homelessness in Winnipeg. Specific outcomes envisioned include:

  • People are housed. People housed do not return to homelessness
  • Lengths of time experiencing homelessness are reduced
  • Outcomes are determined and measured by Lived Experts, for example:
    • Intake and assessment are rapid, consistent, low-barrier, culturally safe
    • People use and value the services; they feel respected and have their needs met
    • People have meaningful choices for where and how to live
    • People have access to all needed supports after being housed
  • Number of services included within Coordinated Access is comprehensive: information on services is kept current; communication is timely
  • Staff Trainings: Providers have a community of practice, sharing person-centred, culturally safe, anti-oppressive, trauma-informed, strengths-based, harm reduction strategies through an Indigenous lens reflecting the diversity of Indigenous peoples
  • All partners communicate, collaborate, and share information and resources: pooling data in a shared, real-time system designed to support people to exit homelessness. Services and benefits are coordinated across systems

Visit End Homelessness Winnipeg’s website to learn more about Naatamooskakowin and how it works.