Legare, Andre (2009) Nunavut, the unfulfilled dream: the arduous path towards socio-economic autonomy, The Northern Review 30: 207–240.
Keywords: children and youth, crowding, health, mental health, Nunavut, social housing
This paper examines the extent to which the government of Nunavut has achieved the goals set out in the Bathurst Mandate. Developed after Nunavut officially became a territory in 1999, the Bathurst Mandate is a collection of socio-economic objectives to be reached by the year 2020. Along with social issues and health, housing is one of the main categories in the document designed to establish Inuuqatigiittiarniq or ‘healthy communities’ (p. 210).
Legare asserts that many of the housing concerns in northern communities are due to overcrowding in social housing where the majority of Inuit live (p. 214). A study from 2006 found that 40% of Inuit lived in overcrowded dwellings compared to only 5% of the overall Canadian population (p. 214). Legare maintains that overcrowding “contributes to poor mental and physical health, family tension, violence, and interferes with students’ homework and school performances” (p. 214). For instance, the author states that the higher rates of tuberculosis can be linked with inadequate housing conditions (p. 213).
Legare suggests that sliding-scale rents in Nunavut could be disincentivizing Inuit from working as housing costs are so high the extra income they earn would go into maintaining their home (p. 215). As well, lack of staff housing in remote communities for government employees means that is harder to decentralize services in the North (p. 223).