Montreal’s Native Women’s Association (MNWA) says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs to put his money where his mouth is and help pay for a new social housing complex for Indigenous women in the city.
“It’s a long time overdue, and it would be great if Prime minister Trudeau wanted to help pay for it,” said Nakuset, president of the MNWA.
Nakuset referenced Trudeau’s September 2017 speech at the United Nations where he committed to improving the lives of Indigenous people.
At a press conference on Monday, she said this project gives Canada the opportunity to live up to those words.
“When Mr. Trudeau said ‘no relationship is more important with this government than that with its Indigenous peoples, we believe him, and we will welcome his support,” she said.
Brenda Marcoux is here to show her support.
The interior Salish woman credits the shelter for helping her get off the streets.
“I was lucky enough to go to the Native women shelter and after 12 weeks I filled out an application and got social housing,” said Marcoux.
But not everyone is as fortunate.
According to Nakuset, many women they serve end up back in abusive relationships because there isn’t enough affordable housing in the city for them to go to after leaving the shelter.
“That’s always the problem, they leave and they try and then they come back,” she said. “We don’t have that supportive housing. If they don’t have that supportive housing they end up back on the streets.”
Like a number of cities in Canada, Montreal’s homeless population is disproportionately made up of Indigenous peoples.
In a 2015 survey of 3016 people who lived on the street about 10 percent of them were Indigenous, even though Indigenous people make up 0.6 percent of the population of Montreal.
In a 2018 study, 75 per cent of 57 Indigenous women surveyed said they spent at least one night in a shelter. The same study shows that the most of those women would all prefer to live in some kind of subsidized housing.
Nakuset hopes the answer could be Miskuuiiwemon.
It’s been a decade in the works.
30 units of subsidized housing – all for Indigenous women and their children with onsite social services.
They found a building in an ideal location – now they need to find $7-million.
APTN asked Indigenous Services about the project but the department has not responded.
For her part, Marcoux said she no longer wants to be the exception to the rule.
She would like to see Montreal’s disproportionate amount of homeless Indigenous women in homes.
And she said a combination of the shelter with Miskuuiiwemon social housing is the solution.
“That’s really what they do is they help you get back on your feet, and start your life again,” she said.
“That’s what happened to me, and so this is really exciting.”