Sekuwe, Dene for “my house” (pdf)
For First Nations in northern Manitoba, inadequate housing contributes to the health inequity that exists between indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians. In 2005, Northlands Denesuline First Nation and Sayisi Dene First Nation, along with the University of Manitoba, Departments of Medicine and Architecture and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (the Research Partners) asked the question, “how is our housing effecting our health?” The outcome was a book that captures the vision, design and creation of housing plans and specific elements that would work to support the Dene First Nation on their path for improved health.
The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) offers a way to a good life, called Mino Bimaadiziwin in Oji-Cree, through the “injection of capital and the integration of housing objectives with other social and economic activities in Aboriginal communities will create a synergistic effect, making housing a source of community healing and economic renewal” (1996, Vol. 3, p. 341).
The Wasagamack Housing Crisis
Pay the Rent or Feed the Kids?
If you had to choose between paying the rent or feeding the kids, what would you choose? For Louise and Charmaine, two Aboriginal women living in poverty and poor housing in Winnipeg, Manitoba, these are their daily life choices (names, locations, and personal identifying information have been removed to protect the identities of the women). Both women ranked affordable housing as their main priority, closely followed by food for their children. For these women, everything, including access to services such as affordable food and transportation, community, and maintaining some control over their lives revolves around affordable housing. Their stories are those of many Aboriginal women throughout Canada and especially in Manitoba.