For Indigenous People, Homelessness Is More Than Lacking a Home

New definition of homelessness developed by Indigenous people across the country has 12 dimensions dating back to colonization.

When the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness came out with a definition of Canadian homelessness in 2012, it didn’t sit right with executive board member Jesse Thistle. Which is odd, considering he spent his 20s cycling in and out of homelessness.

“[They] framed it around being unhoused, and there’s a range of unhoused conditions. And I was like, this is not articulating my experience as an Indigenous person with prior [homelessness] experience,” Thistle said in a phone interview with The Tyee last week.

“I said, we need to fully articulate it to direct dollars, interest, funding and resources to Indigenous services providers. And how we need to do that is to articulate what the problem is. [But] we don’t even know what the problem is because no one’s properly defined it.”

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