Release: Call for State of Emergency in NWT on Housing for Indigenous Peoples

February 24, 2023




(Yellowknife, NWT, CA) The National Indigenous Housing Network (NIHN) along with the Women’s National Housing and Homelessness Network are calling for a state of emergency in the Northwest Territories when it comes to housing Indigenous Peoples, particularly women and girls who have been left in the dark without safety or security as called for in the 2019 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s Report.

NWT Housing Minister Paulie Chinna is not responding to constituents. This poses a threat to the Government of the Northwest Territories’ fiduciary duty to be a transparent, reliable government. Housing NWT is failing northern Indigenous Peoples. This historically began as a ploy to dispossess Indigenous Peoples from their homeland and force them into a dependent lifestyle. 

We are demanding that Housing NWT release all control over housing units and illusory lease agreements in the north and take direction from a delegated nonpartisan group of Indigenous advisors from each region of the NWT. This group of Indigenous advisors would oversee all of NWT Housing’s decisions going forward, including directing that arrears be erased for Indigenous Peoples living in their own territory on their own lands by assertion of Aboriginal rights and title and through the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We know of the problems that are going on within our communities when it comes to housing and the blind eye approach that NWT Housing has taken. The hope for solutions can no longer be placed in the hands of an irresponsible government without the implicit guidance of Indigenous northerners.

Women and children are being evicted from their homes as we speak without anywhere else to go or are being placed in such precarious housing units that are causing them to fall severely ill. Adequate housing is a human right under the new National Housing Strategy Act. This human right must be upheld by the government that is supposed to be serving Indigenous Peoples first and foremost as it is their obligation under a standard of care. However, this cannot be achieved by the government of the day or by any government before it for that matter. Therefore, we call for the dissolution of NWT Housing. We call for Indigenous Nations and Indigenous non-profits with the support of the new National Indigenous Housing Collaborative to collectively address this emergency and ensure that the Federal Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC) and NWT Housing stand behind our efforts instead of attempting to further control the agenda. Community non-profits working alongside their nations, like Fort Good Hope’s K’asho Got’ine Housing Society have already begun this work and it is proving to be successful. This overturning of the current housing structure of the NWT can look similar to what has been done in other provinces like Ontario and British Columbia through community-based, Indigenous-governed organizations like OAHS and AHMA, where the housing mandate focuses on safe and affordable housing for urban, rural and northern Indigenous Peoples with a robust, sustainable, culturally appropriate continuum of infrastructure.

The purchase of 70 off grid expandable, collapsible, and moveable homes ranging in size to be delivered to all 33 NWT communities based on housing priority is not too much to ask and could have come out of the $60 million that was allocated to Housing NWT to alleviate housing need. This infrastructure is where we must begin to house the homeless and work our way towards allocating passive housing units for those who are unable to afford the high cost of market rent and the high cost of inflation through Housing NWT’s inequitable policies.

There is no time for political debate on this matter. The Minister of Housing has been placed in a position where she has no power, or capacity to alleviate the housing crisis therefore this must be taken to the next level of necessary emergency measures to ensure that Indigenous Peoples are no longer left out in the cold.


For more information: please contact Lisa Thurber, .