Kuujjuaq, Quebec October 18 2013 – Makivvik denounces the Throne Speech which contains nothing to resolve the serious housing crisis in Nunavik and this the day after the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples issued a Statement describing the oppressive situation of Canada’s indigenous peoples. After countless studies, statistics and reports, the federal government is well aware of the seriousness of the housing situation in Nunavik wherein 899 families urgently need housing: Nunavik is in the midst of a housing crisis which requires immediate federal government action.
‘We ask ourselves what will it take for the government to live up to its word and respect its treaty obligations under the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. ’ stated Jobie Tukkiapik, the President of Makivvik. ‘We have made numerous requests for a meeting with Minister Valcourt in order to impress upon the federal government the need to urgently act with regard to housing in Nunavik, but to date he has failed to meet with us. After just nine days in Canada, the UN Special Rapporteur understood that funding for aboriginal housing is woefully inadequate. Canada’s continued refusal to address the housing crisis can only be described as bad faith.’
Even prior to the signing of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement in 1975, the government of Canada had failed to meet its constitutional responsibilities to provide safe and sufficient housing for Nunavik Inuit. Notwithstanding some government investment in housing, the housing deficit has continued to grow. Presently, 899 housing units are needed to meet the needs of Nunavik Inuit, this means that 68% of the population live in overcrowded houses. This chronic overcrowding combined with the high cost of living result in serious social, educational and health problems, in many cases leading to some of the highest levels of school dropouts, family violence and suicides in all of Canada. How can Inuit children possibly grow and thrive in such an unhealthy home environment?
According to Statistics Canada, Nunavik has the highest overcrowding rate in Canada. It is not uncommon to have more than ten people living in a two bedroom house. Moreover, Nunavik has witnessed a staggering increase in the rate of active tuberculosis, a disease which had practically been eradicated.
‘It is not surprising that the UN Special Rapporteur compared our situation to that of impoverished third world countries. This does not make sense, Canada is one of the richest countries of the G8. This intolerable situation must be addressed, our children, deserve to live in a safe and healthy environment just as all other Canadians, after all we are taxpayers. We will continue to push government to respect its Constitutional and treaty obligations towards Nunavik Inuit and provide Nunavik Inuit with living conditions which meet our needs and respect our dignity.’ concluded Jobie Tukkipiak.
Despite the fact that Nunavik Inuit have signed two major treaties with Canada in the last thirty-five years, treaties which are supposed to improve the quality of life, Canada has failed to fulfill even the most basic needs – housing.
The Makivvik is a non‐profit corporation created pursuant to the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement (1975) and mandated to represent the social, political and economic interests and well-being of Nunavik Inuit. Makivvik promotes the preservation of Inuit culture and language as well as the health, welfare, relief of poverty and education of Inuit in Nunavik communities. Makivvik is a signatory of the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement (2008).
Senior Communications Officer