Indigenous individuals facing homelessness in Canada are disproportionately affected when compared to the non-Indigenous population, as noted by Pope in 2020 1 . Additional research by Mitchel’s in 2019 characterized homelessness among Indigenous communities as a response to the enduring traumatic effects of colonialism, referred to as “colonial traumagenic forces”2 . These forces encompass centuries of harm and persisting practices upheld by policies, laws, and political interference. Examples include child welfare policies, exploitative practices that violate land rights, as well as racism and discrimination entrenched within the fabric of Canada’s institutions.
To enhance the health and overall well-being of Indigenous peoples, it is essential to acknowledge the profound impacts of colonization on their lives and experiences. This recognition is a fundamental step towards providing the necessary health and social services, as emphasized by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) in 2015, which encompasses housing as a fundamental human right.
As we mark Truth and Reconciliation Day, it is important to remember that everyday we must advocate for equal and equitable justice for Indigenous communities, with a particular emphasis on amplifying the perspectives of Indigenous individuals who faced homelessness and trauma, aiming to provide valuable insights that can be used to enhance the development of services and programs.
Seeing the world through the truth of these indigenous lived experience perspectives, gives us opportunity to learn and the wisdom and guidance to actions of reconciliation through provision of the care and resources needed to bring about an end to homelessness as we know it.
A MESSAGE FROM OUR CEO
EDITORIAL COMMENT –TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION
EHI PROGRAMS AND SERVICES UPDATE
BUILDING A COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE THROUGH PARTNERSHIP
STUDENT PRACTICUMS – AN INNOVATIVE BRIDGE TO BETTER CARE
OUTREACH AND COMMUNITY BUILDING
COMMUNITY FUNDING AT WORK
IN THE NEWS
HOW YOU CAN HELP – GET INVOLVED
Equal Housing Initiative (EHI) stands at the forefront of addressing homelessness, particularly hidden homelessness, in Manitoba. EHI’s commitment to unity and collaboration with various levels of government, non-profit organizations, and businesses aligns perfectly with the recommendations put forth by Canada’s National Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Hidden homelessness, experienced by the residents of places like the McLaren Hotel, is a stark reminder of the inadequate housing conditions faced by many in our province. EHI recognizes that hidden homelessness is a form of chronic homelessness and actively strives to transform these inadequate housing situations into supportive environments that meet the United Nations’ criteria for “adequate housing.”
EHI’s Support Services model reflects a commitment to (w)holistic care, drawing inspiration from Indigenous ways of knowing and Western knowledge to create a personalized and well-rounded approach to care (also called Two-Eyed Seeing approach). The RecoverBridge framework, which includes integrated health services and retrofitting the McLaren Hotel, is designed to empower residents, promote well-being, and foster recovery.
Moreover, EHI’s Community of Practice model brings stakeholders together to collaborate, share expertise, and address the complex challenges associated with supportive housing initiatives. With over 40 established partnerships and a structured Practicum Placement program involving para-health students, EHI creates a nurturing and empowering environment that benefits both residents and students.
The tenant-based initiatives, such as the Tenancy Board, Peer Advocacy, and Education Program, and Peer Building Subcommittee, are crucial steps in preventing evictions and improving communication between tenants and the landlord. These initiatives seek to create a “no eviction” culture and provide comprehensive support services to residents.
In summary, Equal Housing Initiative’s commitment to unity, collaboration, and holistic care aligns seamlessly with Canada’s National Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations. By addressing hidden homelessness and transforming inadequate housing into supportive environments, EHI is actively contributing to the vision of a society where everyone has access to dignified, self-actualizing, and productive lives.
NUTRITION IS BACK!
EHI is excited to announce that our Nutrition Program has returned! Many of our participants have expressed their gratitude to have the Nutrition Program back up and running. During the summer, we had to make the tough decision, and call a pause to our Thursday’s Nutrition Day, to accommodate holidays for volunteers and staff.
Although our Nutrition Program had been paused, EHI continued to receive non-perishable foods for those participants who were in need of emergency food hampers, as well as connect participants to local foodbanks, and assist participants to navigate those systems. This being
said, many of our participants still struggled with food insecurity due to not having an adequate way to prepare food.
Our Nutrition Program aims to provide at minimum, one nutritious meal per week, that includes all the essential food groups, which is delivered to our participant’s door, in order to meet people where they are at, and eliminate barriers that our participants face. We hope
to be able to grow this program, as we continue to develop the McLaren Supportive Housing Model.
Equal Housing Initiative is ever grateful for our supporters of the Nutrition Program, including Community Helpers Unite, Costco, Second Harvest, Sobeys, and Leftovers, as well as our team of dedicated volunteers, students, and staff!
Over the summer, EHI has worked with our peers and participants to develop a Social Club within the McLaren Hotel to build a sense of community within the building. Many of our participants have expressed that boredom is a major trigger for themselves, or their peers in the building, and we would like to strengthen our community, and provide an outing weekly for participants to get to know their neighbors, and engage in a productive activity.
Some of the events we have held so far include hosting movies, card tournaments, hosting a BBQ, as well as a day at Bird’s Hill! We are excited to announce our upcoming event, of a self-guided tour at the Manitoba Museum.
BIRD’S HILL CAMP!
On August 22nd, 2023, EHI organized a day camp for up to 15 of our participants as a part of the McLaren Social Club! We had a wonderful turnout of participants who were able to engage in activities that they do not often, if ever get the opportunity to participate in. The camp consisted of a variety of yard games, an overwhelming amount of food, as well as a delicious BBQ! We had an option for participants to go swimming, which many people chose to participate in, regardless of the weather!
We were also blessed to be joined by Robert Falcon-Oulette, who shared some wonderful stories during the BBQ, including the story of Manitoba! Robert did a phenomenal job of educating our participants on the history of Manitoba, and did an amazing job illustrating and animating the story from the Fur Trade to the “Red River Rebellion.” Many of our participants appeared to be very engaged, and enthusiastic within his story telling.
This was an excellent opportunity for our participants to get to engage with each other, get to know one another, and build a sense of belonging amongst one another. Overall, the feedback from the participants was a very positive experience!
A big thank you to EHI Board Member, Robert Falcon-Ouellette for leading the drumming and storytelling sessions.
THE TENANT-BASED INITIATIVE
The Tenant-Based Initiative is a new initiative offered by Equal Housing Initiative, aimed at fostering a sense of community within the McLaren Hotel and empowering residents to improve their living environment while supporting one another. At its core, this initiative seeks to enable hotel residents to advocate for one another through various means. It’s important to note that as we embark on this journey, our approach may evolve to better service the needs and capacities of our members.
The guiding principle of this initiative is encapsulated in the phrase “Nothing about us, without us.”
Here’s a glimpse of the three key groups we aim to establish under the Tenant-Based Initiative:
The Tenant Association will also provide a platform for Equal Housing Initiative to engage with and listen to residents in the future. Responsibilities include gathering and addressing tenant concerns, advocating for tenant needs and desired house rules, and collecting opinions on future advocacy opportunities. Initially, this group will focus on building a trusting community within the McLaren, where tenants feel comfortable expressing concerns about their housing situation and the services provided by Equal Housing Initiative.
This group will be composed of hotel residents who will act as ambassadors, bridging the gap between our community and external service providers. They will inform other service agencies about life in single room occupancy buildings and collaborate with these providers to bring valuable resources into the McLaren Hotel. Their actions will be informed by the voices of fellow residents, ensuring alignment with the community’s needs.
Building Subcommittee This group of residents will represent McLaren residents’ interests to both Equal Housing Initiative and the construction companies overseeing the retrofit of the McLaren Hotel. Members of this subcommittee will have a direct voice, and physical seat, during construction committees offering insights to the needs and requests of current tenants. This ensures that the construction process remains relevant and tailored to the needs of both current and future tenants.
The Practicum Placement program within McLaren Hotel plays a central role in EHI’s comprehensive framework (as shown in the figure in the editorial). It involves engaging students from diverse para-health study programs to provide residents with care and support. This collaboration benefits both residents and students, providing residents with valuable services and students with real-world experience. This mutual relationship fosters an empowering environment, promoting community and support within the McLaren Hotel. Ultimately, the program enhances care quality, contributes to a compassionate healthcare workforce, and encourages a positive cycle of learning and growth for everyone involved.
Hey there, my name is Aleena! I’ve spent the last half-decade studying at the University of Saint-Boniface, all in the pursuit of a social work degree. Believe it or not, I’m on round two of practicums, and the finish line of graduation is in sight! Winnipeg is my hometown, and as a Métis woman, I wholeheartedly celebrate my heritage with enthusiasm. But what really gets my heart racing are people’s stories, and that’s why I’m excited to dive into work with the fabulous folks over at the McLaren Hotel. I’m all about that “Housing First” approach, and Equal Housing Initiative is where it’s at. With a mix of academic know-how, a dash of cultural flair, and a healthy dose of enthusiasm, I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and make an impact in the world of social work. Let’s do this!
My name is Teigan and I am a 3rd year social work student at the University of Manitoba. I am doing my first field placement at Equal Housing Initiative. In my free time I enjoy playing and coaching youth basketball. One of the things I enjoy most about EHI is the team environment within the staff and the overall community that has been built throughout the building. I am looking forward to learning something different from each community member I interact with as well as my mentors.
My practicum at EHI has given me the opportunity to interact with residents of Single Occupancy Room and witness the condition they live in. It is inspiring to see the tireless work done by EHI to meet their needs. As a Social Media and Digital Marketing intern I am deeply committed to raising awareness about the vital work being carried out by EHI. By shining a spotlight on EHI efforts, I hope to create awareness and generate support for their cause, whether through volunteering time or making contributions to sustain EHI’s heroic endeavors. Overall, my practicum at EHI has been a valuable learning experience and has given me a new perspective on the importance of community involvement and advocacy for those in need.
Last May, Equal Housing Initiative, in collaboration with Citizen’s Bridge, proudly hosted its inaugural Birth Certificate Clinic. This significant event offered an invaluable opportunity to the residents of McLaren, enabling them to apply for their birth certificates at no cost. This crucial step is essential for obtaining a photo ID, which in turn opens doors to a wide array of opportunities and services.
EHI is excited to share that our application to Manitoba Housing’s Proposal Development Funding (PDF) program has been approved. This program offers interest-free loans, with a maximum limit of $75,000, to support the costs associated with developing a proposal for an affordable housing project.
EHI is delighted to announce the approval of our application for the Sustainable Affordable Housing – study stream grant, administered by The Federation of Canadian Municipalities. This grant enables the recipient to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the necessary steps for implementing a qualified project. This assessment encompasses technical evaluations, energy modeling, analysis of financial options, site assessments, stakeholder engagement, and detailed project planning.
EHI utilized these funds to conduct preconstruction surveys and assessments as part of the capital project preparation.
EHI is happy to announce the approval of our application to the Community-Based Tenant Initiative Fund(CBTIF), administered by the Community Housing Transformation Center. It aims to provide contributions for community housing providers, organizations, sector service providers and tenant associations to support vulnerable tenants, especially those living in affordable and community housing.
EHI is using this find to establish the tenant-based initiatives outlined in the “Programs and Services Update” section of this newsletter.
EHI applied for The City of Winnipeg operating grants. It provides operating grants to non-profit organizations through its Community Services and Parks department. These grants are intended to help non-profit organizations deliver programs and services that align with the priorities and objectives. In our case, funding will be dedicated to staffing the intake and assessment.
EHI recently applied for Healthy Together Now (HTN) program, administered by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. The program funds projects and initiatives that are community-led and address the current needs and issues identified by each community and Winnipeg community area.
”Together, we can create a world where everyone has access to a safe and stable place to call home. Thank you very much for your support”! Rick Lees, CEO