HANSARD: Government should take immediate action to deliver a dedicated housing strategy for indigenous people

Indigenous Affairs
Adjournment Proceedings
September 29th, 2022 / 6:05 p.m.

Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, on May 5, I rose to ask the Prime Minister if he would take immediate action to deliver a dedicated housing strategy for indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people and end the ongoing genocide against indigenous women and girls.

The final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls cites housing and homelessness over 200 times. This is the result of colonization and decades of neglect and broken promises by successive federal governments, from Liberals to Conservatives to Liberals.

Precarious housing situations contribute to increased risk of violence, trafficking and the high number of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. Urban indigenous peoples are eight times more likely to experience homelessness compared with the general population. The national inquiry's final report calls upon governments to ensure that indigenous peoples have equitable access to basic rights, including housing, but the current government has failed to deliver a for indigenous, by indigenous urban, rural and northern housing strategy. 

The Prime Minister has said over and again, “No relationship is more important to Canada than the relationship with Indigenous Peoples,” but reconciliation must be more than just words. It requires real action, commitment, listening to indigenous peoples and substantial investments. In other words, it requires action. 

The Prime Minister's words ring hollow when indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people in Canada continue to disproportionately experience violence and homelessness. The $300 million over five years for the for indigenous, by indigenous urban, rural and northern housing strategy is woefully inadequate to address the urgent needs on the ground. After decades of neglect and colonization, it is a slap in the face to indigenous peoples. Ensuring access to safe, affordable and culturally appropriate housing is critical to ending this genocide against indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people.

Call to justice 4.6 calls upon the government to “immediately commence the construction of new housing and the provision of repairs for existing housing to meet the housing needs of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people.”

Call to justice 4.7 calls upon the government to:

...support the establishment and long-term sustainable funding of Indigenous-led low-barrier shelters, safe spaces, transition homes, second-stage housing, and services for Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people who are homeless, near homeless, dealing with food insecurity, or in poverty, and who are fleeing violence or have been subjected to sexualized violence and exploitation. All governments must ensure that shelters, transitional housing, second-stage housing, and services are appropriate to cultural needs, and available wherever Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people reside. 

Tomorrow is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Our country must reflect on our history of colonial violence and genocide. The government has a responsibility to end this violence and to stop perpetuating this colonial violence, this intergenerational trauma and this social and economic marginalization. We need action now.

Bryan May Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence
Cambridge, Ontario

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for bringing up this important topic. I would also like to assure the member that the government has taken the tragic loss of indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people extremely seriously.

While budget 2021 investments continue to roll out, budget 2022 builds on these past investments to strike at the root causes and work towards eliminating violence against indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people, and to address the calls for justice.

This is a holistic approach, and this would help to build safer communities. We are investing in housing, education, mental wellness and health care, as well as economic development and employment; addressing the challenges of natural resource development and the implementation of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and investing in the gender-based violence national action plan, the LGTBQ2+ federal action plan and the anti-racism plan.

To say that we have not taken action is not true. It is simply not true. For example, in July of this year, in collaboration with the Government of Nova Scotia, indigenous communities and organizations, our government invested over $6.5 million to support the construction of a new resilience centre in Milbrook through the green and inclusive community buildings program. This centre would provide services to women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ individuals seeking refuge and respite across Nova Scotia.

In regards to homelessness, the government recognizes that precarious housing conditions put indigenous women and girls, as well as 2SLGBTQQIA+ people at higher risks of violence. We worked with partners to co-develop the 10-year national first nations housing and related infrastructure strategy. The Assembly of First Nations Chief endorsed that strategy in December of 2018. We continue to work with the Assembly of First Nations to advance this strategy.

As of December 31, 2021, our government has supported first nations with the construction, renovation and retrofitting of 25,102 homes on reserve, of which 17,432 have been completed. To support housing in Inuit and Métis communities, $980 million has been announced by our government since 2016.

In the 2022 budget, we announced an additional $4 billion in funding for indigenous housing over seven years to accelerate work in closing indigenous housing gaps, including $2.4 billion over five years to support first nations housing on reserve, $845 million over seven years for housing in Inuit communities, $190 million over seven years for housing in Métis communities, and $565 million over five years for housing in self-governing and modern treaty first nation communities.

Lastly, through the indigenous homes innovation initiative, we are supporting creative projects led by indigenous peoples to design and build more effective, sustainable and culturally inspired living spaces, some of which will specifically support indigenous women and girls or other vulnerable populations.

Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC

Madam Chair, the government needs to face the truth and acknowledge the reality of the ongoing genocide of indigenous women and girls in this country.

One in 10 indigenous women were victims of a violent crime in 2019, and between 2015 and 2020, the average homicide rate involving indigenous victims was six times higher than that of non-indigenous people. 

A 22-year-old Inuit woman, Savanna Pikuyak, who came to Ottawa to become a nurse, was murdered just four days after arriving in the city. She lacked access to safe, secure, affordable housing. That is the reality. She was away from her home community. 

We still do not have a for indigenous, by indigenous urban, rural and northern housing strategy. Will the government commit today, on the eve of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to adequately fund a for indigenous, by indigenous—

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HANSARD: Foreign Interference and Alleged Reputational Harm to Members of Parliament

Outside this chamber, just yesterday, there were individuals shouting, questioning and jeering about who the traitors may be. Members of Parliament had to walk past these individuals on the members' way to the House to do their work. I believe we must find a way to disclose which MPs are knowingly, intentionally, wittingly or semi-wittingly engaging with foreign states or their proxies to undermine Canada's democratic processes and institutions. I believe this can be done in a way that does not compromise national security.

If there are no consequences for MPs who knowingly help foreign governments act against Canadian interests, we will continue to be an easy target. This will further erode the trust and faith Canadians have in our democratic processes. If allowed to continue, it will further impugn the integrity of the House. Revealing any member of Parliament, former or present, who is a willing participant in foreign interference activities would have the effect of deterring this kind of behaviour. Moreover, it would send a clear message to those foreign states that this cannot continue and that they will not be able to continue to use parliamentarians in this way. This will further reassure the public of the integrity of the House.

I strongly believe that the House should refer the matter to the procedure and House affairs committee. A possible way to deal with the issue would be for committee members to undergo the necessary security screening to examine the unredacted report and look into the allegations about parliamentarians who were “‘witting or semi-witting’ participants in the efforts of foreign states to interfere in our politics.” We could allow the named parliamentarians to be informed and to come before the committee as witnesses; we could then explore options on how to disclose the named parliamentarians without compromising national security or police investigations of the matter.

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