The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is a national Indigenous organization representing the political voice of Indigenous women and girls in Canada. Incorporated in 1974, NWAC works to advance the social, political, and cultural wellbeing and equality of Indigenous women through advocacy, education, research and policy. NWAC recognizes Indigenous women in the broadest sense, comprising status and non-status First Nations, Métis, Inuit, self-identified Indigenous living on and off reserve and Two-Spirit people as well as members of the LGBTQ+ community who consider themselves to be under NWAC’s mandate.
While there are some housing issues shared by Indigenous communities, each community has unique challenges in developing, constructing and maintaining an adequate housing supply. Indigenous women also face gender-specific challenges in securing a safe, stable housing situation for themselves and their families, both on and off-reserve. Racialized violence disproportionately affects Indigenous women and girls in Canada, with housing issues a contributing factor to the lack of safety and security they may feel. Insufficient accessible shelter and affordable housing options for Indigenous women leaving abusive situations, especially in remote, rural and Northern communities, means that they and their children cannot always live in safety. Colonization, patriarchy and the effects of intergenerational trauma shape Indigenous women’s experiences of homelessness and housing insecurity. Any approach to address these impacts must recognize the complex social, historical, economic and legislative issues that contribute to these experiences.
The federal government must incorporate an intersectoral and gender-based approach that is inclusive of voices that have been unrepresented and under-represented in previous policy discussions. Indigenous women are the experts of their own lived experiences and are best suited to deliver recommendations on the housing policies that will impact them.