Our home, our way of life’: the meaning and context of northern homelessness and housing (in)security


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NAHO Speaker series, March 1, 2012

Julia Christensen, PhD

SSHRC Post-Doctoral Research Fellow University of British Columbia

Research Associate Institute for Circumpolar Health Research

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  • Housing policy and families - here I mean both conflicts between housing policy and peoples’ desire to look after family members, but also the relationship between housing policy and child welfare - lose housing, lose children
  • Our home, our way of life’: the meaning and context of northern homelessness and housing (in)security

    1. 1. ‘ Our home, our way of life’: the meaning and context of northern homelessness and housing (in)security <ul><li>Julia Christensen, PhD </li></ul><ul><li>SSHRC Post-Doctoral Research Fellow University of British Columbia </li></ul><ul><li>Research Associate Institute for Circumpolar Health Research </li></ul>
    2. 2. PhD thesis research <ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Homeless in a homeland: housing (in)security and homelessness in Inuvik and Yellowknife, Northwest Territories </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>2007-2011 </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    3. 4. Pop. 3,430 Pop. 18, 510
    4. 5. <ul><li>Context-dependent </li></ul><ul><li>Frames our understanding of what homelessness is and how it occurs </li></ul><ul><li>Housing vs. home </li></ul>Housing (in)security
    5. 6. <ul><li>Factors contributing to housing insecurity in the NWT </li></ul>
    6. 7. <ul><li>Home/land (Turpel 1991) </li></ul><ul><li>Family as ‘social fabric’ (Brant Castellano 2002; Menzies 2009) </li></ul><ul><li>Cohesion of community (Stairs and Wenzel 1992) </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Home’ is multidimensional (Hulse and Saugeres 2008) </li></ul>Meaning of ‘home’
    7. 8. <ul><li>Factors contributing to housing security in the NWT </li></ul>
    8. 9. <ul><li>Northern housing insecurity = absence of ‘home’ </li></ul>“ When the government took our land, bush camps and traplines away, they took away our homes. That was our home, that was our way of life.” - Sarah, Aboriginal support provider, Inuvik
    9. 10. Mona’s story Mona’s story Mona’s story
    10. 11. “ My family at [in my home community], they’re doing good now. They want me to move back and stay with them and get better. But if I leave [Yellowknife], I leave my kids. I can’t do that. My kids are everything to me.” - Mona
    11. 12. David’s story David’s story David’s story
    12. 13. “ I have no idea [what ‘home’ means]. I really have never had a home, never felt at home. So it is a weird thing for me to talk about.” - David
    13. 14. <ul><li>Fractured family and community </li></ul><ul><li>“ At home when I’m on the land” </li></ul><ul><li>Legacy of intergenerational trauma </li></ul>“ There has been so much change”
    14. 15. Collective and individual experiences of ‘homelessness’ <ul><li>Distinction between ‘rootlessness’ and ‘rooflessness’ (Somerville 1992) </li></ul><ul><li>“ Spiritual homelessness” (Memmott and Chambers 2008) - relevant to the northern Indigenous context </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Place’ and ‘belonging’ integral to health (Thornton 2008) </li></ul><ul><li>Early rootlessness, loss of wayfinding results in key vulnerabilities to homelessness - distinctively tied to family and community </li></ul>
    15. 16. Northern housing and social policy landscape <ul><li>Core housing need </li></ul><ul><li>Uneven geography of key institutional services </li></ul><ul><li>Housing policy and families </li></ul><ul><li>Child welfare </li></ul><ul><li>Correctional system </li></ul><ul><li>Patchwork of mental health and addictions treatment options </li></ul>
    16. 17. <ul><li>Homelessness pathways can be read differently </li></ul><ul><li>Policy conflicts with “home/searching” (Tucker 1994) or </li></ul><ul><li>“ home/journeying” (Mallett 2004) </li></ul>Northern housing and social policy landscape
    17. 18. <ul><li>Family and community supports </li></ul><ul><li>Role of housing in family, community, and mental health </li></ul><ul><li>Supportive housing </li></ul><ul><li>Trauma-related treatment </li></ul><ul><li>Moving forward as a community </li></ul>The journey home
    18. 19. Mahsi Cho! - Quyanainni! - Thank You! - Merci! <ul><li>To all research collaborators, the National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO), </li></ul><ul><li>and to: </li></ul><ul><li>Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) </li></ul>
    19. 20. <ul><li>Brant Castellano, M. 2002. Aboriginal family trends: Extended families, nuclear families, families of the heart. Toronto, ON: Vanier Institute of the Family. </li></ul><ul><li>Hulse, K., and L. Saugeres. 2008. Housing insecurity and precarious living: an Australian exploration. Melbourne, Australia: Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute. </li></ul><ul><li>Mallett, S. 2004. Understanding home: a critical review of the literature. The sociological review 52 (1): 62-89. </li></ul><ul><li>Memmott, P., and C. Chambers. 2008. Homelessness amongst Aboriginal people in inner Sydney. Retrieved online March 10, 2011 at: http://www.uq.edu.au/housingconference2007/docs/Memmott_Chambers_2ndAH RC2007.pdf </li></ul><ul><li>Menzies, P. 2009. Homeless Aboriginal Men: Effects of Intergenerational Trauma. In Finding Home: Policy Options for Addressing Homelessness in Canada, eds. J. D. Hulchanski, P. Campsie, S. Chau, S. Hwang, and E. Paradis. Toronto: Cities Centre, University of Toronto. Retrieved online August 18, 2011 at: http://www.homelesshub.ca/ResourceFiles/Documents/6.2%20Menzies%20-%20Homeless%20Aboriginal%20Men.pdf </li></ul>
    20. 21. <ul><li>Somerville, P. 1992. Homelessness and the meaning of home: Rooflessness or rootlessness? International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 16 (4): 529-539. </li></ul><ul><li>Stairs, A., and G. Wenzel. 1992. I am I and the environment: Inuit hunting, community, and identity. Journal of Indigenous Studies 3 (1): 1-12. </li></ul><ul><li>Thorton, T. 2008. Being and place among the Tlingit. Seattle, Washington: University of Washington Press. </li></ul><ul><li>Tucker, A. 1994. ‘In Search of Home’, Journal of Applied Philosophy, 11 (2): 181–187. </li></ul><ul><li>Turpel, M. E. 1991. Home/land. Canadian Journal of Family Law 10: 17. </li></ul>