October 27th, 2021
LETTER: First Nations need housing investments
Resident of Berens River warns she won't survive winter in her current house
Dear Minister Hajdu,
First of all, I would like to congratulate you on your new role as Minister of Indigenous Services. I have always appreciated any opportunity we’ve had to work together, and I look forward to working with you on issues facing constituents of mine, including ending the housing crisis on First Nations, support for all-weather roads, ending short- and long-term boil water advisories, and increasing investment for urgent infrastructure projects. Throughout the Liberal government’s mandate, we’ve heard a number of strong commitments – I hope you are the Minister that finally converts those pretty words into meaningful action. As long as that is the case, we in the NDP will be willing and supportive partners.
I am writing to you today urging you to do more to end the housing crisis facing First Nations. I have heard from constituents in every corner of my riding describe the subhuman living conditions many live in; dozens to a household, homes filled with mould, crumbling roofs and broken windows. It is, without a doubt, a consistent and shameful failure by your government and governments before it.
My office was recently contacted by Anita Denechezhe(Mckay) of Berens River. I’ll let her describe her living conditions:
“Winter is coming up and my house is in pretty bad shape my flooring is not good plus no heaters under crawl my water freezes every winter my heaters inside they don't work , I got a wood stove but but my roof is falling apart i'm not gonna survive this Winter it's only October 16/21 and i already have my first Pneumonia my house is really cold my Windows are all broken i use garbage bags to cover them and my sewage has been over flowing in 5 years i've asked for help i live close by the main pump house and where the pumps are connected and my sewage is flowing through the river no wonder why we have boiling advisory right now.”
The sad reality is that across Canada, this is a common reality and solutions like the Rapid Housing Initiative are band-aids that don’t even come close to solving the problem. We know the government identified $4.6 billion in rapid housing initiatives worth funding 6 months following the launch of the program, but only committed to spending $2.5 billion. This is the end result.
MP Niki Ashton (Churchill—Keewatinook Aski)