Makivvik brief blames Ottawa for high number of homeless Nunavik Inuit in Montreal
Feds refuse "to make a special effort to initiate a catch-up program similar to the one of the government of Quebec"
A former longtime federal civil servant who now serves as special advisor to the president of Makivvik Corp. says that Ottawa is to blame for the large number of homeless Nunavik Inuit in Montreal.
Donat Savoie, once the chief negotiator for the Nunavik offshore agreement and other deals, said the federal government keeps “refusing to make a special effort to initiate a catch-up program similar to the one of the government of Quebec” in a Nov. 7 brief prepared for a peoples’ commission on housing rights organized by the Front d’action populaire en réaménagement urbain, which visited Kuujjuaq last month at the same time federal Liberal leader Bob Rae was in town.
In May, 2011, Jean Charest, then Quebec’s premier, announced a 300-unit social housing catch-up program for Nunavik during the launch of Plan Nord.
Later in 2011, after that move didn’t see Ottawa responding in kind, Makivvik launched a dispute mechanism under the James Bay Implementation Agreement to force the federal government to finance a similar social housing catch-up program.
“The causes of hidden homelessness in Nunavik and homelessness in Montreal both originate in Nunavik,” said Savoie, who points to the rising level of homeless from the region who find themselves in Montreal
Inuit represent 10 percent of the aboriginal population in Montreal, he said, but they account for 45 percent of homeless aboriginal people in the city.
“There seem to be as many men as women in this situation,” Savoie said.
In April 2010, “given the acute situation of Inuit homelessness in Montreal,” Makivvik is doing what it can, he said.
Makivvik developed a strategy and action plan on Inuit homelessness to ensure access to adequate medical care and social services for Inuit in Montreal “who are in vulnerable situations or are homeless” and to prevent homelessness.
As part of this strategy, Makivik promotes the development and signing of partnerships with other Nunavik organizations, as well as with organizations representing Inuit of other regions of Canada and several agencies working with homeless people, Savoie says.
Last April, Makivvik and the Chez Doris women’s day shelter in Montreal, where 15 per cent of the clientele are Inuit, signed a partnership agreement which entails, amongst other things, the hiring of an Inuit case worker who takes care on a priority basis of Inuit women that are in a vulnerable situation or homeless.
This past October, Makivik signed another partnership agreement with Projets Autochtones Québec, which manages the only night shelter for aboriginal people in Montreal.
There, more than 50 per cent of the visitors to this shelter are Inuit, Savoie says.
Makivvik, with the support of the Kativik Regional Government and the Ungaluk Safer Communities program support these two agreements, he says.
Makivik supports Projets Autochtones Québec in its drive to build a new shelter, establish transitional beds, develop a day centre and start a program of social reintegration adapted to the cultures of First Nations and Inuit.