Engaging the Urban Aboriginal Population in Low-Cost Housing Initiatives: Lessons from Winnipeg

Article excerpt

Resume

L'accroissement de la population autochtone dans les villes canadiennes presente des occasions d'ameliorer le developpement economique et culturel des centres urbains au Canada. Il y a beaucoup de problemes auquels font face les autochtones lorsqu'ils s'etablissent dans les villes. Dans plusieurs villes, ils forment le groupe social le plus desavantage dans le domaine du logement. Le racisme individuel et systemique persiste dans le secteur de logement. De plus, les autochtones ont des besoins et des aspirations differents par rapport au logement. Cet expose propose que les urbanistes, dans chaque secteur et juridiction, qui jouent un role dans l'amenagement des programmes de logement devraient observer quelques principes fondamentaux pour engager les autochtones lors de la redaction des nouvelles politiques concernant le logement a bas prix. Les autochtones devraient etre engages dans toutes les etapes de la creation des programmes, ce qui inclus la planification, la mise en oeuvre et l'evaluation. Cet engagement est necessaire afin d'ameliorer tous les programmes de logement et de les rendre plus sensibles aux besoins et aux aspirations des autochtones. De plus, d'autres strategies de logement devraient etre facilitees pour ce groupe afin de promouvoir leur desir legitime d'autodetermination dans la planification de leurs programmes urbains.

Mots cles: Autochtone, logement, urbain, autodetermination, amenagement

Abstract

The number of Aboriginal people in Canadian cities is rising, presenting opportunities for economic and cultural growth in urban Canada. There are many problems facing Aboriginal people as they establish themselves in cities. They are the most poorly housed social group in many cities. Individual and systemic racism persists in the housing sector, and Aboriginal people have specific housing needs and aspirations. This paper argues that planners in every sector and jurisdiction that have a role in housing programming should practice some basic principles of Aboriginal engagement when drafting new urban low-cost housing policy. Aboriginal people should be involved in every stage of program design, delivery, and evaluation. Proper engagement should occur to make mainstream programs more sensitive to the needs and aspirations of Aboriginal people and specific housing strategies should be facilitated for this group to take account of the legitimate Aboriginal desire for self-determination in urban programming.

Key words: Aboriginal, housing, urban, self-determination, planning

**********

The number of Aboriginal people living in Canadian cities is increasing, and this trend presents some exciting opportunities for economic and cultural growth and diversification in urban Canada. Compared with the non-Aboriginal population, however, urban Aboriginal people face some very acute cultural, social, and economic challenges. Education levels tend to be lower, unemployment rates higher, and incomes are on average lower than those of non-Aboriginal people (Hanselmann 2001).

The present affordable housing crisis in urban Canada is very evident within the Aboriginal population (Ark Research Associates 1996). The majority of Aboriginal households in Canada reside in urban areas (Hanselmann 2001), and most live in rented accommodation. A significant proportion of this housing is inadequate and not affordable. The number of Aboriginal households living in core housing need is over three times higher than the number of non-Aboriginal households (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation 1998). Aboriginal homelessness in major urban areas ranges from 20 to 50 percent of the total homeless population (Canada, Privy Council Office 2002 as cited in Graham and Peters 2002). Aboriginal households may reflect different cultural values that affect the composition of the household (Ark Research Associates 1996; Peters 1984) and the design of housing developments (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation 1995). …