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NAFC Report: Sheltering Urban Aboriginal Homeless People – Assessment of Situation and Needs

by NationTalk on April 17, 20082532 Views

Background and Methodology

This Study seeks to identify the needs of urban Aboriginal homeless shelters. It was expected that a variety of Federal / Provincial / Territorial (F/P/T) and Aboriginal stakeholders would benefit from a shelter needs assessment which pays particular attention to the challenges of policy, financial resources, financial administrative requirements, demand for services, and a unique caseload which calls for special approaches.Housing and Homelessness Branch of Human Resources and Social Development Canada commissioned the Study. The project was funded under the National Research Programme of the National Homelessness Initiative (NHI), now the Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS). The National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC), in collaboration with the University of Winnipeg, facilitated the project. The Consultant (the Author) commenced data collection and analysis in December 2006, finishing by April 2007. The Report was finalised after a review and feedback process lasting though October 2007.

The Report is illustrated with photographs of urban Aboriginal shelters with a view towards putting a face’ on the issues and dispelling myths. Approximately 200 library and Internet document sources are referenced in the bibliography and endnotes. These cover a range of financial, statistical, and policy issues relevant to the financing of urban Aboriginal shelters. Recommendations are provided.

The Study focuses upon urban Aboriginal shelters whose primary objective is the relief of homelessness as opposed to the relief of flight from violence and abuse. The Study used five case studies, in four cities, to illustrate the diversity and realities of urban Aboriginal shelters. The cities are Prince George, BC; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Brantford, Ontario; and St. John’s, Newfoundland. The case Study shelters allowed the Author to conduct interviews with key informants. Interviews were also conducted in Toronto, but the stakeholders there were not treated as case studies. Visits were made to all these locations.

This was not an investigation into the health, social, economic, or other circumstances of Aboriginal populations. It was an exploration of the services available to Aboriginal homeless people in the urban setting; ergo, the various ethical guidelines about the study of Aboriginal populations had limited application. The site visit shelters allowed the Author unfettered access to facilities, staff, statistics, and records of any nature including financial reports not in the public realm. This required ethical assurances that statements by informants would be anonymised and confidential material would be treated sensitively. The documentary and statistical research included a scan of media reports, review of the literature, and targeted research as questions arose. Additional information was obtained through telephone conversations with informants and telephone communications with members of an ad hoc Working Group of shelter representatives struck to advise the NAFC about project.

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