Nfld. & Labrador

'Housing crisis' in Indigenous Labrador communities acknowledged with federal funding

Nunatsiavut Government and the Innu Nation are starting to see federal money come in to address the housing needs of their communities.

$15M going to Nunatsiavut Government, $1.3M to Innu Nation

Labrador MP Yvonne Jones, left, stand with Patricia Kemuksigak, Nunatsiavut’s Minister of Education and Economic Development. (Katie Breen/CBC)

To date, the Nunatsiavut Government has received approximately $4 million of the $15 million earmarked in Justin Trudeau's 2016 budget, while the Innu Nation is set to see $1.3 million newly announced on Friday.

"There are many people who are couch surfing or are homeless," said Patricia Kemuksigak, Nunatsiavut's Minister of Education and Economic Development.  

"There are people living in homes with 17 people in them, multiple families, grandparents right down to the great grandchildren… there's not enough housing put in to keep up with the demand."

A lot more needs to be done for us to catch up with the rest of Canada.- Patricia Kemuksigak

She says this is the Nunatsiavut Government's first time getting "direct funding" as its communities don't fit the federal criteria of being a reserve or located above the 60th parallel.

"A lot more needs to be done for us to catch up with the rest of Canada," she said

"There's major housing crisis, major housing problems, a lot of overcrowding, a lot of issues."

Money for Innu Nation

Money for the Innu Nation had neither been explicitly stated in the 2016 budget nor addressed prior to Friday's announcement at a Nunatsiavut Government building in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Friday.

"I mentioned it today because I want people to realize and understand that we're recognizing that there is a housing need in many of the different regions of Labrador, not just in Inuit specific communities," MP Yvonne Jones said.

"You can expect to have some good announcements coming up in future days."

How money will be spent in Nunatsiavut

Both lots of funding are part of the federal government's commitment to contribute upwards of  $167.7 million to Northern, Inuit and Innu communities countrywide.

The Nunatsiavut Government intends to put some of its share towards buildings in its largest centres, Nain and Hopedale.

You can expect to have some good announcements coming up.- Yvonne Jones, Labrador MP

"These multiplexes will provide a home for parents whose children would otherwise be taken into care without the provision of adequate housing," Kemuksigak said.

Money will also be spent on home inspections, high-efficiency wood stoves and repair and general home repair modules for citizens.