Aboriginal Homelessness in Canada: A Literature Review

This paper presents a comprehensive review of scholarly literature on the topic of Aboriginal Homelessness in Canada. It answers the following four broad inquiry areas through a review and analysis of current (1988-2012), and primarily academic, literature:

  • Inquiry Area #1 - Key Concepts: How are the concepts of ‘homelessness’ and ‘home’ defined, particularly for the Aboriginal population? Is there a unique meaning of homelessness for Aboriginal Peoples1?
  • Inquiry Area #2 - Causes: Why are Aboriginal populations (particularly youth, gender minorities, and urban groups) at a disproportionate risk of becoming homeless or overrepresented in the Canadian homeless population?
  • Inquiry Area #3 - Experiences: How do Aboriginal Peoples experience homelessness? What is the range of diversity in their lived experiences?
  • Inquiry Area #4 - Action: What has been proposed in the areas of homelessness prevention and solutions for Aboriginal Peoples? What is working? What are some new ways authors are conceptualizing these issues?

This literature review also endeavours to highlight gaps and weaknesses that currently exist in the academic literature and suggests future research avenues on this topic. This review is organized around broad themes that emerged throughout the literature which are reflected in the section headings. There is, however, a significant amount of overlap between sections because many subjects and personal experiences are interrelated and complex.

This literature review has several target audiences. Since it provides an analysis of scholarly material an academic audience is a primary target. This review may also be of value to policy makers, service providers, politicians and community stakeholders because of its emphasis on solutions and pathways forward. Since it is written in plain language, it is also designed to be accessible to the general population. It is the hope of the reviewer that this document is disseminated as widely as possible, as to draw attention to the national Aboriginal homelessness crisis and hopefully inspire action.


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Publication Date: 
Canadian Observatory on Homelessness Press