Shelter worker hopes Montreal acts on Inuit homelessness fix
Makivik president supports city ombudsman’s homelessness report recommendations
Updated on Tuesday, May 10 at 3:30 p.m.
A Montreal shelter worker commends a set of recommendations put forth by the city’s ombudsman to better address Inuit homelessness, but says he’s not confident the city will move quickly on implementing them.
An investigative report, called “Don’t Look the Other Way,” was released May 4 by Montreal ombudsman Nadine Mailloux. It sheds light on Indigenous, particularly Inuit, homelessness in the Milton Park area in central Montreal.
The 40-page report’s publication follows complaints from a group of citizens in the neighbourhood that city authorities are not adequately addressing the issue of homelessness, and includes consultation from various shelters, Indigenous groups and advocates in Montreal.
It makes five comprehensive recommendations calling on the city to take action on Indigenous homelessness.
- Some key points include:
- Ensuring this year that the City of Montreal implements a stable and safe emergency shelter resource that meets the needs of Inuit;
- Involving citizens in the search for solutions linked to security and the management of homelessness in the area;
Upgrading the financing method for community organizations to access continuous and permanent funding rather than project-based funding;
- Developing a preventive approach to combat homelessness in the community by creating community programs for Inuit who arrive in the city.
“While I suggest an Indigenous-led solution is the way forward, I wouldn’t suggest that somehow that’s going to be easy to apply,” said David Chapman, executive director of Resilience Montreal, a downtown homeless shelter.
Chapman says local Indigenous groups and larger organizations like Makivik and the Assembly of First Nations should sit down with city officials to discuss solutions, but that he doesn’t expect local government to “just quickly jump to that.”
“That is the solution that in the long-term will succeed, but I think it will take some time for the city itself to come around to that,” he said, citing how accepted academic solutions to housing insecurity are often “at odds” with intuitive, Indigenous-led solutions.
Pita Aatami, president of the Nunavik land claims organization Makivik, however, is encouraged by the recommendations outlined in the report, calling them “essential and achievable goals.”
“We are pleased to see that the ombudsman’s conclusions reflect the work and objectives that Makivik has carried out over the years,” said Aatami in a statement to media on May 5.
Aatami said the recommendations are all “priority items.”
“We expect that the various levels of government will take the recommendations seriously and address the issues that disproportionately affect not only the Inuit, but all the Indigenous groups who experience homelessness in the city,” Aatami said.
Mailloux has forwarded the report to the Quebec ombudsman, who will open an investigation.
There are homeless of every race, creed and background in Canada. We don’t really see homeless in the north because nobody is actually “homeless” (you would die in the winter). Doesnt matter what your background is, the homeless are a marginalized people, and usually suffer from addictions and mental health issues. What is the point of these recommendations, to give a certain group of people more entitlement than other homeless groups?
Montreal has a very large homeless community of every race and gender. It would be more appropriate for them to address the whole homeless community. Not just one race.
When one moves to an urban area, it is up to them to make sure they have accommodations lined up. A lot of inuit homeless in urban areas find there ride there on medical excursions. So they make the government’ waste funds on return airfare not being used.
Not disrespecting their choice, but once they move out of territory, the inuit organizations and territorial government shouldn’t have to keep providing for out of territory residents. A lot of that funds can be used on housing and mental welfare.