A homeless family in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut has reached a desperation point.
Mike Czar, his common-law spouse and five children haven’t had a home for three years and he says his daily life has become a constant struggle.
“Scared constantly,” he says. “Scared, worried about my children, you know, I have my older children too my teenagers they've been unfortunately because they're not with me and their mom. They've been running the road, causing trouble, courts and everything else.”
The family was living in a three-room cabin with no heat or running water about a 20-minute walk outside of town, until an incident with a Coleman Stove left Czar’s partner, Molly Inuksuk, with severe carbon monoxide poisoning.
The family, which includes children ages 17, 16, 9, 6 and 15-months, is on a waiting list for a public housing unit.
Czar says he recently attended a housing meeting, wanting to know roughly when they would be given a place to stay, but he had no success.
“I do understand that there are a lot of people that need houses,” Czar says, “but when it’s an emergency like this, when somebody almost loses their life to where they’re at, they should be turning around and say 'here, we have a place… until we can find you better accommodation.'”
Right now, Czar is staying at his brother-in-law's house while that family is away.
When they return, with their six children, the house won’t be big enough for everyone.
Czar works in construction or as a cook, but is currently relying on income support while he looks for employment.
Harder in the North
The family returned to Rankin three years ago after a house fire destroyed the home where they were living in Winnipeg.
Czar says life was different in the South.
“Not once did I have police coming to my door about my kids.”
Now, he says, he’s part of a broken family, under extreme stress, and has a hard time even keeping track of his older kids, who have run into trouble with the law.
“Seeing what they’re going through, it tears my heart apart, because I know that’s not who they are.”
He says it’s time the federal government steps up to help deal with Nunavut’s housing crisis.
“This really has to come to an end what’s going on up here in Nunavut. If the rest of Canada knew and had seen exactly what was going on, there would be a stop to it.”
Czar says there are solutions.
“A trailer would be adequate. We get the same kind of temperatures down South. You could put a trailer up here.”
In the meantime, his life remains a constant struggle.
“I’m not born here but my whole family was born here, This is their home. The point that I’m at right now, if I had $7,000 in my pocket right now, I’d be taking my family to the airport, we’d be getting on a plane and we’d be leaving and that’s not what I want.
“Now basically we have nowhere to go.”