Native centre in Montreal holds workshop to find out what the housing needs are in the city

Tom Fennario
APTN National News
Native Montréal, a friendship centre in the city is working on making housing more accessible by gathering information on the various needs of the people they serve as they prepare to pitch an Indigenous housing project to city hall.

Indigenous people living in Montreal have been finding it difficult to find adequate housing. Montreal is Canada’s second most populous city with close to two million inhabitants. But compared to other big cities
like Vancouver and Toronto, the vacancy rate is high.

But for some people like Shirley De Wind, a nine year resident of Montreal, finding a place to rent is not easy.

She feels it’s because of the way she looks.

“So, I found an apartment, I went through Kijji, I phone on a telephone, I was allowed to go and have an appointment to go see it,” said De Wind, who is Ojibway. “The moment I arrived, they realized who I
was and when they came downstairs to see who I was, they told me the apartment was rented.”

But when she called back the next day, they told her the apartment was still available.

“So I asked them, how come they denied me. And they said, ‘oh it’s you, um, well yeah you weren’t fitting the criteria of the apartment.”

She said it wasn’t the first time she’s faced discrimination. She recently attended a workshop on social housing to explore her options.

Another woman attending the same meeting, mother of four, Jennifer Jerome said Montreal doesn’t have enough housing for bigger families.

“Two bedroom apartments are most common, like in the Montreal area. If you want to have something a little bit bigger, a three bedroom is common as well but four bedroom is fine,” said Jerome.

Originally from Iqaluit, Jean Qaunirq has lived in Montreal for almost 30 years. The biggest changes she’s seen throughout the years is higher rents.

“I would love to see for Native and Inuit people to have more lower housing, or lower price to have apartments. That would be wonderful because everything is becoming more expensive,” said Qaunirq.

“Over the next couple of weeks it will really determine the type of project that we would like to put in front, to better define it, and after that present it to the city of Montreal,” said Native Montreal, Housing Project Manager Andreanne Langlois-Cote.

De Wind said she would love to see an Indigenous social housing project happen in Montreal. However, she doubts it will happen anytime soon.

In the meantime, she’s better prepared to deal with difficult land lords.

“Now I have some numbers where I can reach, where if I do have difficulty I can have someone help me,” she said.

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