National Indigenous Peoples Day, celebrated on June 21, is a day for all Canadians to celebrate and honour the legacies, cultures, and exceptional achievements of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples.
At the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (COH), our commitment to honouring these legacies, cultures and achievements revolves around reconciliation and a recognition that Indigenous homelessness is rooted in the genocidal projects of residential schools, the Sixties Scoop, and the massive numbers of Indigenous children in state care. There are three times as many Indigenous children in the government’s custody today as there were during the height of residential schools, and 70.5% of Indigenous youth experiencing homelessness in Canada have been involved in the child welfare system at some point in their lives.
As a settler organization, the COH both celebrates and offers our solidarity and support for all Indigenous Peoples and communities. We are committed to increasing our understanding and awareness and recognize that reconciliation is ongoing and entails a concerted effort. We are committed to working with our Indigenous partners and communities to contribute to a future of healing and reconciliation. To that end, we have partnered with our associated Indigenous Advisory Circle (see members below) to launch Journey to Reconciliation: Indigenous Perspectives on Homelessness Prevention.
Journey to Reconciliation is a story-gathering project with the aim of collecting stories of Indigenous homelessness prevention. Indigenous service providers, Elders, and people with lived experience of homelessness know what is needed to prevent Indigenous homelessness! We’re looking to learn about the initiatives, the programs, the pilots, the ideas, and the grassroots efforts in organizations and communities across the country that are working to prevent homelessness and keep Indigenous people housed.
As a research institute, our instinct was to begin this work with a traditional academic literature review. We soon realized, with the help of our Indigenous Advisory Circle, that we wouldn’t find what we were looking for in books! As such, Journey to Reconciliation will rely on the use of storytelling via focus groups and interviews to gather stories of Indigenous homelessness prevention. These stories will be supplemented with grey* and academic literature.
Learnings from the story-gathering sessions and available literature will be shared across the country to increase the sector’s capacity to prevent Indigenous homelessness.
To participate, please contact Jessica Rumboldt (Mi’kmaw), COH’s Senior Researcher on Indigenous Homelessness at firstname.lastname@example.org
COH’s Indigenous Advisory Circle members include: Elder Waasaanese (Alex Jacobs), Whitefish Lake First Nation; Bernice Kamano, PHS Community Services Society; Betty Edel, End Homelessness Winnipeg; Cindy Sue Montana McCormack, Coalition of Hamilton Indigenous Leadership; Fran Hunt-Jinnouchi, Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness; Marcel Swain, Lu’ma Native Housing Society; Steve Teekens, Na-Me-Res (Native Men’s Residence).
The Canadian Observatory on Homelessness acknowledges its presence on the traditional territory of many Indigenous Nations. The area known as Tkaronto has been care taken by the Anishinabek Nation, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, and the Huron-Wendat. It is now home to many First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities. We acknowledge the current treaty holders, the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. This territory is subject of the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, an agreement to peaceably share and care for the Great Lakes region.
* Reports, policy literature, working papers, newsletters, government documents, and speeches are examples of grey literature created outside of standard publication and dissemination channels.