Canada – New shelters for homeless Inuit women | Polarjournal
In Nunavik, 53% of families live in overcrowded conditions, i.e. at least 3 people per room. 38% of families in Nunavut have this problem: two records in Canada. Image: Ian Schofield

Women who are victims of violence or who do not have access to housing are supported by the association Pauktuutit which has just received funding to build 13 emergency shelters and 15 transitional housing units in the Canadian Arctic provinces.

On February 22, Pauktuutit, the Canadian association dedicated to the cause of Inuit women, announced a victory after more than 37 years of legal battle. Her project to support the homeless and victims of violence has been approved by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and Aboriginal Services Canada, through the funding of shelters and transitional housing. International Women’s Rights Day reminds us how important this is.

The association is working on 13 emergency shelters and 15 transitional housing units. The funding conditions limit the cost of these constructions to a maximum of $7.2 million per shelter while the operational costs per year will be different. One million dollars will be provided annually to support the operation of the shelters and five hundred thousand dollars per housing unit.

Three thousand homes

Inuit communities in Canada have been experiencing a long-standing housing crisis. According to a study published last January by the Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, there is a shortage of 3,000 housing units in the Nunavut region. This territory concentrates 62% of the country’s Inuit community. For this reason, the State and the regions do not invest in construction and the local economy does not allow the import of materials and labor.

This crisis affects men, families and single women,” explains Amir Sultan, sociologist at Paris Saclay and author of the study. “The women come from various social classes, some are unemployed, others are employed but their income is not sufficient.” The equipment of households is also a factor of difficulty, housing is sometimes not heated or is very poorly ventilated and does not meet the standard of the rest of Canada.

Brochure of the Pauktuutit association which represents all the Inuit women of Canada, about thirty thousand people and works for their social, cultural and economic development. Image: Pauktuutit

In 2019, Build magazine published an article about modular kit homes that can be assembled in less than a week. A possible solution to curb overcrowding, which also affects other regions of the country, to a lesser extent. “Canada is a land of immigration. Economic activity is favourable in the south, less so in the north where climatic conditions are harsher,” comments the sociologist.

“Many live in poverty, and mental health care is non-existent…All we are asking for is respect for our basic rights,” Mumilaaq Qaqqaq pleaded in 2017 at the University of Ottawa’s Heiresses of Suffrage event, according to Canada’s digital daily La Presse. Mumilaaq Qaqqaq is a 29-year-old former representative who won the 2019 election to represent Nunavut in the Canadian House of Commons with 41.2% of the vote.

“She campaigned in particular on access to housing,” Amir Sultan reminds us. Better access to housing would reduce health problems among women in the Canadian Arctic. “Real estate investment should be facilitated,” he advises, “the price of shipping should also be relieved of its taxes, know-how should be imported from the locals to reduce labor costs, and the Inuit community should be included in the urbanization plan decisions.”

Camille Lin, PolarJournal

Link to study: Sultan, A., 2023. Solving the housing crisis in Nunavut, Canada. Scand J Public Health 14034948231152636,

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