Health & Housing


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National Aboriginal Housing Association
Sixteenth Annual National
Urban Aboriginal
Housing Conference &
General Meeting
“Aboriginal Housing & Homelessness: Strategies and Solutions”

100 Lyon Street
Ottawa Ontario

Published in: Health & Medicine
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  • Goals Research to enhance the health and well-being of all First Nations, Inuit and Métis. Increase understanding and awareness of the health and well-being of all First Nations, Inuit and Métis. Facilitate and develop relationships relating to First Nations, Inuit and Métis. Traditional and Western based health related careers. Support the recognition, preservation and promotion of First Nations, Inuit and Métis in their transmission of Traditional Knowledge, healing practices and medicine. Provide First Nations, Inuit and Métis with the tools to promote environmental health.
  • Half of the: Inuit population is 22 years old and younger First Nations population is 25 years old and younger Métis population is 30 years old and younger Non-Aboriginal population is 40 years old and younger. The fastest growing segment of the population. Nearly 6 times faster than the 8 percent increase for the non-Aboriginal population. Métis more than 11 times faster. First Nations and Inuit both 3 times faster.
  • Definition of crowding – more than one person per room ( Statistic Canada) In 2006, 7000 (40%) Inuit children in Canada aged 14 and under lived in crowded homes, more than six times that of non-Aboriginal children (6%). Crowding was especially common on reserves. 26% of on reserve First Nations people lived in crowded conditions.
  • Refer to Haudeno
  • AFN has found that the rate of TB for First Nations on-reserve is 31 times higher than the mainstream population> ITK – Inuit TB rate was 185 times greater than other Canadian. (Joint Press release: Hospitalization rates for Inuit children with severe lower respiratory tract infections are the highest in the world. Research has shown that crowding, along with poor ventilation in Inuit homes contribute to these rates (Kovesi, T., N. Gilbert, C. Stocco, D. Fugler, R. Dales, M. Guay and J.D. Miller, July 17, 2007, Canadian Medical Association Journal, “Indoor air quality and the risk of lower respiratory tract infections in young Canadian Inuit children, p.177(2).
  • #1 Canadians spend up to 90% of their time indoors (HC, Indoor Air Quality , Web page, 2010: http://www.hc-sc.gc,ca/ewh-semt/air/in/index-eng.php) This means that exposure to pollution is concentrated and extended. #2- 60% of First Nations on-reserve smoke (HC, First Nations, Inuit and Aboriginal Health webpage on Tobacco , 2007: Thus, tobacco pollution of indoor air is a serious cause for concern. #3. Asbestos was used in the construction of older homes…breathing in asbestos fibres could cause cancer. #4 – Toxic Mould is a serious and growing health and safety problem for First Nations (Auditor General Report 2003 & 2006). Studies indicate may be due to high moisture levels in building envelope and interior space, high percentage of overcrowded homes and insufficient use of ventilation systems. Need studies on this topic. #5 – 2005 – Survey conducted by NAHO First Nations Centre (2002 & 2003) found that 44% of 10,6616 First Nations living on reserve reported mould growth in their homes.
  • Traditionally First Nations homes were ventilated in the spring, in the old days it was common practice to open doors, windows to refresh the home. In some communities it was part of mid-winter ceremonies. Today our homes are air tight and are in greater need of ventilation than in the past when the old homes were drafty and heated with wood stoves. Simon Brascoupé
  • Smoke Smoke can pass through cracks under and around doors, so no place in your home or car is safe from smoke! Mould Reducing indoor moisture is key to reducing potential health risks from moulds. Turn on fans that vent to the outdoors or open windows when showering or boiling water on the stove. When drying clothes, either on racks or in a dryer, make sure the moisture can escape outdoors. Be sure to clean up from floods, spills and leaks right away. Remove items from your home that may cause mould to grow, especially items stored in the basement and closets. Clean up small areas of mould on hard surfaces with soapy water and dry the surface completely. Dust and Dust Mites Reducing dust and dust mites in your home will help reduce irritants, which can cause allergic reactions and aggravate asthma and other breathing problems. Dust your home regularly from top to bottom. Reduce clutter so dust will have fewer places to settle and to make cleaning easier. Vacuum carpets and any fabric-covered furniture to reduce dust build-up. Vacuum mattresses to minimise dust mites. Wash sheets once a week in hot water. Radon Gas Radon is a radioactive gas that has no colour, smell or taste. It is formed by the breakdown of uranium, a natural radioactive material found in soil, rock and groundwater. When radon is released from the ground into the outdoor air, it gets diluted to low concentrations and is not a health concern. However, in enclosed spaces, like basements, it can sometimes accumulate to high levels, which can be a risk to the health of you and your family. Lead Exposure to lead can cause harmful health effects to the nervous system, blood system and kidneys, especially in children and unborn babies. Exposure to even low levels of lead can cause learning disabilities and other harmful effects on the development of children. Pregnant women must also be careful, because lead can cross the placenta and affect their unborn child. Carbon monoxide Carbon monoxide (CO) is a harmful gas that has no colour, smell or taste. It is hard to detect without a carbon monoxide detector. It can come from unvented kerosene and gas space heaters; gas water heaters, wood stoves and fireplaces; gas stoves; exhaust from generators and other gasoline powered equipment like cars or snowmobiles; and tobacco smoke.   Even at low levels of exposure, CO can cause breathing problems and headaches. The health effects at higher levels can be much more serious and can even cause death.
  • Put at least one carbon monoxide detector with a sound alarm in your home. It should be certified by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). Look for this certification on the label. This type of alarm will alert you early if there is a CO leak in your home. Maintain appliances such as furnaces, fireplaces, gas stoves and water heaters so they work properly. Have them inspected by a professional at least once a year. Never use barbecues or outdoor/camping stoves indoors. Do not use a kerosene or oil lamp, or a space heater, in an enclosed space unless the label clearly says they are made specifically for indoor use. Do not let cars, trucks, snowmobiles or other vehicles idle near open doors or windows or in a garage, if you have one, even when the garage door is open. Never run a gas powered lawnmower, trimmer, or snow blower in the garage. Keep the door between your home and the garage closed.
  • Most people find too much noise very annoying, which over time, can affect your quality of life, can be harmful to your health, and may lead to hearing loss. As homes and communities become more crowded, environmental noise levels increase. Children may have a stress response to loud noise. Their heart rate may increase and levels of certain hormones may be affected. Loud noise can also have a negative effect on children’s learning and language development, can disturb motivation and concentration, and can result in reduced memory and ability to carry out tasks. Consequences of exposure to loud noise include temporary or permanent hearing loss and ringing or buzzing in the ears (tinnitus). Noise can also affect your ability to have a normal conversation, enjoy leisure activities, get a good night's sleep, or do work that needs thought and concentration. A lack of sleep deprives the body and brain of time needed to rest and renew. Over time, this can lead to stress, anxiety, and high blood pressure.
  • Make sure you have easy access to your septic tank. Complete maintenance regularly. Have your septic tank pumped out every 3-5 years or when 1/3 of the tank is filled with solids (you will need a professional technician to measure this). Clean out effluent filters on a regular basis. How often you clean them depends on the filter type and size and the amount of water used in your household. Be careful what you put into your septic system. Do not pour paints, solvents, thinners, nail polish remover, or other common household products, medicines or antibiotics down the drain or into your toilet. Doing this could kill the bacteria that break down the organic matter in the wastewater. Never put oils, grease, fat, disposable diapers, tampons and their holders, condoms, paper towels, facial tissues, cat box litter, plastics, cigarette filters, coffee grounds, egg shells, or other kitchen waste into the septic system. Try to control the amount of water that enters your septic system by reducing the amount of water you use. Some good ways to reduce use are to fix leaky faucets, repair running toilets, and use low-flow toilets.
  • Noise Limit the amount of time spent on noisy leisure activities, including listening to loud music. Wear ear protection if exposed to loud noises. Wastewater and sewage Complete septic tank maintenance regularly. Do not pour household chemicals, medicines, grease or other kitchen waste down the drain. Do not build anything on top of the leaching bed. Do not park or drive vehicles on the leaching bed.
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