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Nunavut and Nunatsiavut: Nain, Hopedale, Goose Bay, Pangnirtung, Rankin Inlet, Iqaluit

The Federal Housing Advocate visited Nain, Hopedale, and Goose Bay in Nunatsiavut as well as Pangnirtung, Rankin Inlet, and Iqaluit in Nunavut from October 17 to 29, 2022, in partnership with the Nunatsiavut Kavamanga and Nunavut Tunngavik, to learn more about housing in the North, particularly for Inuit communities.

We know that there has long been a housing crisis for these communities. The Federal Housing Advocate witnessed first hand and heard directly from Inuit community members about the dire housing realities they face as a direct result of colonialism and a staggering failure by multiple levels of government over many decades to invest in and respect the human rights of Inuit. Despite repeated promises by multiple levels of governments, families continue to live in deplorable conditions. This is an ongoing human rights failure that needs urgent attention.

The Advocate heard the exhaustion and the urgent need for change both from people who are unhoused and those who are stressed and living in precarious housing circumstances. The level of distress cannot be underestimated, nor can the toll that being unhoused or precariously housed has on one’s physical, mental and emotional health. Throughout these communities, the host Inuit leadership organizations made it possible for the Advocate to visit several forms of public and private housing, including housing that serves people with disabilities, people experiencing homelessness, women and children fleeing violence, and Elders.

Inuit must be able to exercise the right to control and manage their own housing. This right to self-determination is in line with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Long-term, sustainable and adequate funding is needed at all levels to address the housing crisis for Inuit.

Housing need in Nunavut

In Nunavut, the core housing need rate in 2021 was 32.9%—this is compared to the national average of 10.1%. (Statistics Canada) Core housing need is defined as living in an unsuitable, inadequate or unaffordable dwelling and not able to afford alternative housing in their community.

Areas for action

The Advocate will work with the Inuit leadership organizations to co-develop recommendations for government duty bearers to address long-standing inequalities and violations of the right to adequate housing. The recommendations will include measures to:

Snapshot: Pangnirtung

Consider the example of a home we visited in Pangnirtung with seal skins drying outside. The two families who live in the home, eight people in total, are facing eviction and an uncertain future.

In the media