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Housing and Homelessness an Indicator of True Reconciliation

by ahnationtalk on December 14, 2015497 Views

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Housing and Homelessness an Indicator of True Reconciliation

December 14, 2015, Vancouver – A recently released housing strategy: Towards an Urban Aboriginal Housing & Wellness Strategy for Metro Vancouver (2015-2020) outlines critical targets for addressing housing and homelessness for the roughly 40,000-60,000 urban Indigenous people living in the greater Vancouver area, 18,000 who live in Vancouver alone, the rest in nearby Metro Vancouver municipalities.

The Metro Vancouver Aboriginal Executive Council (MVAEC), an advocacy group strategically planning for improved programs and services for the urban Indigenous population released the report which presents some disturbing facts, but more importantly, solutions.

Known as being a center that attracts people from across Canada, the cost of living in Vancouver creates difficult conditions for many Indigenous people, some with little work experience or insufficient job training. The result is minimum wage jobs and then become known as the working poor, especially if they are single parent households with smaller children to care for.

“Generations of discrimination, injustices and inequities have contributed to the great many issues, poverty being first and foremost, we as Indigenous Peoples are facing today when it comes to accessing healing and wellness, including finding a safe and affordable place to call home,” says Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President, Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “Aboriginal people are increasingly moving to regional and urban centres seeking employment, education and to be closer to family. All levels of governments must prioritize investments to build quality new housing units and renovate existing units to support Aboriginal students and families.”

Among the identified targets are: 1500 units by 2020; as well as five actions to strengthen housing leadership and capacity. There is also a need to increase access and diversify housing options and offers seven immediate steps government at all levels can commit to in order to ensure living and wellness conditions for urban Indigenous people are properly addressed.

“We know that 1,500 units will not close the gap, and that there is an immediate housing need in the region for Indigenous residents, but we think of this as ‘action while planning’ for a longer-term 10-year regional Aboriginal housing and wellness strategy,” says Ken Clement, Chair of MVAEC. Support for a longer-term strategy based on need projections and principled engagement with the urban Indigenous community is also one of the report’s calls for immediate action.

Adds David Eby, NDP MLA ““Urban Indigenous people are disproportionately represented among the homeless across Metro Vancouver. Government at all levels must make a commitment to truly honour reconciliation by setting out concrete plans, and concrete foundations for new housing, to ensure Indigenous people, like all Canadians, have the basics for a happy and successful life.”

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Media Contacts

Ken Clement, MVAEC Chair – Cell: 778-866-0317, kenc@caan.ca
Kevin Barlow, MVAEC CEO – W: 604-255-2394, Cell: 604-354-2570, ceo@mvaec.ca

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