Collings, Peter F. (2014) Becoming Inummarik: Men’s Lives in an Inuit Community, Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press
Keywords: gender, homeownership, Housing Assistance Program, resettlement, social housing, Ulukhaktok (Holman), wage labour
Collings research examines the experiences of Inuit men as they move through adolescence toward adulthood and elderhood. He conducted this research from in Ulukhaktok between 1992-2012.
Inuit began moving off of the land into permanent settlements in the 1960s because of access to government public housing, support programs, medical care and wage labour opportunities (p. 47). Collings states housing in Ulukhaktok was almost always available, an unusual situation in Arctic settlements. He claims changes in housing policies and rent scales over the last 30 years had negative consequences for Inuit (p. 52). He suggests policies encouraging ideas like homeownership have economically disadvantaged younger Inuit with wage labour jobs. These policies either forced Inuit into public housing with high rents, or to purchase homes in the private market with the financial responsibility of a mortgage and utilities.
Older Inuit rely on old age pensions and traditional cash-generating strategies and tend to live in heavily subsidized public housing. In 2007, rents for older Inuit were approximately $38 each month and utility payments were heavily subsidized (p. 53). Under the Housing Assistance Program (HAP), some older Inuit obtained private units for free. Because HAP ended in the 1990s, young Inuit were unable to take advantage of the program (p. 53).
According to Collings, Inuit recognize the state as a source of economic help and assistance. This includes social assistance, tax credits and rebates, and other financial programs that help offset high living costs including gasoline, heating fuel and public housing (p. 56). Women have better access to these resources than men. For instance, women are given higher priority for public housing than men. Colling’s contributes this imbalance to the negative interactions men have with the state and state agents. Older Inuit men, Collings notes, claim the state has ignored Inuit values and disposition and replaced them with southern Canadian values (p. 58).