New Nunavut Facebook group seeks action on homelessness, housing
“We have been plagued with the devastating realities around homelessness and overcrowding for decades.”
Few people understand the harsh realities of homelessness more than Francine Doucet, a single mother living in Iqaluit.
That’s because as toddler, she lived in a tent with her family, though that was because of circumstances other than homelessness.
“It was very scary. It’s a constant state of uncertainty. It’s scary, it’s dark — thank god it was temporary,” Doucet said.
But now all those feelings are creeping back after leaving a job that carried housing benefits.
That’s only until September. After September, a time when temperatures hover around the freezing mark, she’ll either be in a women’s shelter or she’ll have to pitch a tent and live outside once again.
Doucet, however, is taking action.
In the same spirit as the popular “Feeding My Family” Facebook group that popped last year to protest food prices in the North, she has created a group called “A Place to call Home – Angirraqarnirarunnqniq.”
Her goal: to bring Nunavummiut together to create change in the territory’s current housing strategy, because “the strategy, I don’t know when it was created, [but] it hasn’t worked.”
“No housing strategy has worked, we can clearly see that,” Doucet said.
Doucet points to unoccupied, boarded up homes and people living in tents as proof of how previous housing strategies crisis have failed.
In the group, Doucet posted that she individually counted 22 abandoned units around Iqaluit, excluding Apex.
The minister responsible for the Nunavut Housing Corp., Peter Taptuna, tabled a new Nunavut housing strategy at the last sitting of the Nunavut Legislative Assembly this past May. (See document embedded below.)
Igluliuqatigiilauqta, or “Let’s build a home together,” accompanied with an action plan expected some time by the end of summer, “will guide and drive the collective effort required to overcome the daunting and complex, but not insurmountable challenges facing housing in Nunavut,” Taptuna said in May.
When contacted, the NHC and the office responsible for homelessness could not comment before this article was published.
The NHC already subsidizes 80 per cent of all Nunavut homes, but even with those subsidies, Doucet says it’s tough paying all the bills.
“Even when I got subsidized housing, I was struggling. As a single parent… it was difficult,” Doucet said.
“It’s difficult not to live in a state of poverty,” she said.
She says she’s not the only one struggling in Iqaluit, and wants to bring attention to the struggles all people in the territory face when it comes to housing.
Doucet hopes people will “jump in support” of this Facebook group because “this is the only way it can change.”
Doucet is also calling for politicians to go above and beyond their portfolios so that changes are actually seen.
“If we did see someone doing their best, then I guess we would see changes. We wouldn’t see boarded up homes that aren’t inhabited,” she said.
So far, “A Place to Call Home” had 179 members July 22 after being created July 18.
Other people accepted into the group are sharing ideas for housing solutions, like turning seacans into livable homes, or sharing the experience of being homeless.
“I had [an] experience with my older children in [the] past and believe me it was quite a struggle, and there were desperate harsh times too,” posted Tanya Killiktee of Iqaluit.
For now, Doucet is hoping to find a job with subsidized housing before her September deadline.