Federal government to open applications for Indigenous shelters across Canada

The federal government says it will soon open applications to build emergency shelters and transitional housing for Indigenous Peoples facing gender-based violence across Canada.

Speaking in Iqaluit, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller today highlighted money already announced in the Liberals’ 2021 budget – including $420 million over five years for the construction of Indigenous-led shelters.

“This includes an investment of $304 million over five years and $96.6 million ongoing for the operation of those new shelters,” Miller said. “As well as transitional houses across the country, including in the North — particularly in the North, after the issues that have been raised — as well as in urban areas.”

The announcement comes after a spate of domestic violence incidents earlier this year in Quebec. Ten women were murdered in ten weeks — two of them Inuit.

In 2019, the province’s northern Nunavik region reported 1,200 cases of domestic violence, in a population of 13,000.

Currently, there are three shelters serving Nunavik’s 14 remote, fly-in communities. Nationwide, more than 70 per cent of Inuit communities are without the emergency shelters and transitional housing needed to support people facing gender-based violence.

Ahmed Hussen, who is the families, children and social development minister, says a call for shelter proposals will go out this September.

“We know this is key for Indigenous women and children, and Indigenous communities, to be able to reclaim their power and place in their communities in Canada,” Hussen said.

Hussen says the money will pay for the construction of at least 38 emergency shelters and 50 transitional homes across the country.

Hussen also says that though the call for proposals is nationwide, Nunavut will not be forgotten — stressing that “the funding will reflect the need across a number of communities… and obviously Nunavut will be a big part of that.”

Aluki Kotierk, president of the land claims organization Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., says the funding is a good step forward but says it’s too little, too late for Inuit who continue to struggle during the territory’s housing crisis.

Kotierk says the COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on the urgent need for housing in Nunavut, with the virus having rapidly spread through the territory’s overcrowded homes.

With files from Lindsay Richardson, Kent Driscoll and The Canadian Press.

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