A Little Kindness Would Go a Long Way: A Study of Women's Homelessness in The Yukon

“A Little Kindness would go a Long Way” is the result of a project funded by the Federal Homelessness Initiative. Additional funding in the Yukon was provided by the Crime Prevention Action Fund, the Yukon Women's Directorate, the Whitehorse PSAC Women's Committee and the Yukon Federation of Labour. It is the result of coalition of women’s organizations in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut that wanted to understand the scope and dynamics of women’s homelessness in their own territory and the commonalities across the North. The Yukon Status of Women Council built on work begun in 2004 by the Strong Women’s Voices – Rural Choices report which highlighted lack of housing as a concern for rural Yukon women. In the fall of 2004, women from the Yukon, NWT and Nunavut met to discuss housing issues in the North with the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation. Women’s homelessness emerged as an issue of joint importance and concern. Since the realities of life in the North differ from those in southern Canada, research undertaken in the North by Northerners was necessary. The partners wanted to dispel the myth that there is no homelessness in the North. The stories that emerged painted a grim picture of homelessness that is largely hidden, easily overlooked.

Focus groups and individual interviews were conducted with homeless women, women at risk of homelessness and service providers in three communities in the Yukon, Teslin, Whitehorse and Dawson City. Community members interviewed women in the two rural communities. Women’s moving and eloquent stories were captured on tape to give life and meaning to the facts. The resulting data was grouped into categories and analyzed by themes. The categories that emerged were: determinants of homelessness, impacts of homelessness, the policies and bureaucratic practices related to homelessness and the service environment.

Now the picture has been painted, Northerners can move to change it. Recommendations were made by all involved with the project, homeless women, service providers and the Yukon Status of Women Council. Recommendations range from those that address systemic issues, to changes in policy, to shifts in attitudes and understanding of women who find themselves homeless and above all, for a little kindness. 

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