National poverty conference to shine light on Indigenous homelessness, truth and reconciliation

National poverty conference to shine light on Indigenous homelessness, truth and reconciliation

Poverty advocates, researchers and policy makers from across Canada are coming to Winnipeg this week, bringing ideas on how to get the most vulnerable off the streets.

But this year’s National Conference on Ending Homelessness Oct. 25 to 27 will have a special focus on Indigenous homelessness and truth and reconciliation. The conference is held in a different city each year, but this theme makes Winnipeg a fitting venue, said Louis Sorin, president of End Homelessness Winnipeg.

“The goal is to move beyond statements about truth and reconciliation to actually embed, throughout the conference, the opportunity for people to experience truth and reconciliation, and for people to talk about it in a much deeper way,” he said.

To do that, organizers have incorporated the use of elders, ceremony, and traditional knowledge.

The conference, hosted by the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness and End Homelessness Winnipeg, will also be attended by at least 50 people who have experienced homelessness. Twenty-five of them are from Winnipeg, Sorin said, and the other 25 are from other communities across Canada.

Sorin added that the national conference on homelessness usually happens in locations that are in a city “where the conference could actually move the needle.”  

“In Winnipeg and across Manitoba, Indigenous people are affected by homelessness at much higher rates than anywhere else,” Sorin said.

That is, in part, due to a high percentage of individuals who come out of the province’s child welfare system, Sorin said.

“And we know that Indigenous children and youth are affected by that at much higher rates.”

End Homelessness Winnipeg is also working to address other areas where the city needs to improve, Sorin said.

One area is Winnipeg’s lack of transitional housing—Sorin said there is a lack of access and supply of appropriate and affordable housing.

“If we don’t manage the transitions well, then people fall, they’ll end up in homelessness, so how do we create those places,” he said, adding that the organization is also looking at prevention and data.

The National Conference on Ending Homelessness runs Oct. 25 to 27.

Published at Mon, 23 Oct 2017 19:26:00 -0400