With over 200 delegates in attendance in Victoria in 2019, participation numbers at Caucus Days have continually increased since its inception six years ago, serving to highlight the importance of Indigenous housing and homelessness issues in Canada.
Caucus Day 2019 was focused on this growth, mapping the journey of the Caucus and asking crucial questions about its future in both the short and long term. This Caucus works on incredibly important policy issues and advocates for increased housing programs and services for Indigenous Peoples living in urban, rural, and northern settings.
The Trudeau government has spent a fair deal of its mandate seeking to redress historic harms, advance reconciliation, and raise the standard of living for Indigenous Canadians, but there are still significant gaps to fill, among those secure and affordable housing and homelessness prevention. The federal government may be listening, but until federal dollars are committed, Canadians must hold them to account for their fiduciary obligation to all Indigenous Peoples, regardless of where they live.
In reflecting on how we as a nation can best change the policies and structures that keep Indigenous Peoples on the margins, it is equally important to pause to look back in time. The 1992 report “A Time for Action” prepared by the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs outlined how the government’s housing programs were failing to keep pace with the actual needs of Indigenous Peoples, and more was required to address the crisis.
It would appear the government’s acknowledgement of the Indigenous housing crisis over 25 years ago never translated to a real sense of urgency in committing to doing, and being, better. The data from that report reads as if was written today —overcrowding, mould contamination, deterioration and disrepair of existing stock, and the overall unacceptable living conditions threatening the health and social well-being of Indigenous families and communities.
To that end, the Caucus borrowed the government’s title “A Time for Action” and made it the theme for the Caucus Day 2019 program: an opportunity to come together and have a national voice that will assist in highlighting the urgent priorities of Indigenous housing.
Session One —Mapping Our Journey —laid the groundwork for the day by reflecting on the activities and achievements of the caucus over the last several years, setting the stage for interactive discussions on key issues and initiatives for the future of the Caucus.
Session Two — Come Together: Open Space Networking —generated communication and collaboration, bringing delegates together to share ideas and develop solutions to the various challenges and emerging issues faced as homelessness and housing services providers for Indigenous People.
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Canadian Housing and Renewal Association and the Indigenous Housing Caucus Working Group