Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples (2017) We Can Do Better: Housing in Inuit Nunangat. 42nd Parliament – 1st Session

Keywords: architecture and designCanada Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC)Canadian federal governmentcrowdingplanning

The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples examined northern housing between February and June 2016. The study included testimony from over 50 witnesses and direct observation of homes in Nunavik and Nunavut (p. 7). The witnesses included Inuit government and community members, northern housing authorities, architects, etc. The Committee mainly focused on Inuit housing across Inuit Nunangat and First Nations housing in the Northwest Territories.

The report identifies Inuit Nunangat (the Inuit traditional territories) as having “an acute housing crisis” (p. 5). The factors contributing to the housing crisis includes the history of centralization and social housing, a rapidly increasing Inuit population, and the high cost of constructing and maintaining northern housing. The Committee made 13 recommendations to address overcrowded homes, insufficient housing designs, lack of affordability, and limited housing options. The Committee’s main concern is the slow decline and lack of federal funding to meet present and future housing needs.

The Committee recommends the direct involvement of Inuit in all housing concerns, policies, and procedures (p. 6). Housing projects with greater community involvement are more successful than projects with a lack of Inuit contribution. They also suggest that federal funding be funneled directly to Inuit organizations involved in housing (p. 33). The Committee’s recommendations attempt to support community integrated solutions to better reflect northern climate and Inuit culture (p. 59). The Committee also recommends the creation of housing programs that encourage cohousing ownership, home buy-back, and grants that can provide homeownership as an affordable option for Inuit (p. 45). Blending private and public housing is another option to help alleviate the housing crisis.