Finding suitable housing remains a challenge for many urban Aboriginal people and families. In 2006, it was estimated that more than one-third of Canada’s Aboriginal population lived in inadequate, unsuitable or unaffordable housing compared to 18% of the non-Aboriginal population (Belanger, Weasel Head, & Awosoga, 2012).
Addressing homelessness in an Aboriginal context requires an understanding of the root causes that put Aboriginal people, especially youth, at far greater risk. Many of the behaviours associated with homelessness such as; substance abuse, addictions, conflict with the law and under-education, are directly related to the intergenerational impact of prejudice and abuse.
After extensive community consultations in 2002, Tewegan Housing for Aboriginal Youth (formally known as the Aboriginal Youth Non-Profit Housing Corporation of Ottawa) was established as a partnership of four Aboriginal agencies with the following objectives:
- Increasing transitional housing beds for Aboriginal youth.
- Developing and sustaining partnerships among stakeholders (including planning for a cultural component in the continuum of service model as well as direct service provision).
- Promoting a culture-based approach to addressing Aboriginal homelessness.
With supports from the City of Ottawa and the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres a Community Action Plan was developed and funds were provided to enable the opening of Tewegan Housing for Aboriginal Youth in October 2004.
For a decade, Tewegan Housing for Aboriginal Youth has been offering a voluntary transitional living program specifically designed to help young Aboriginal women at their most vulnerable point. The transitional living program at Tewegan Housing for Aboriginal Youth works with young First Nations, Inuit and Métis women to help them find safe affordable housing, achieve stable employment, continue their education or get job training, build healthy adult support systems and learn to manage their physical and mental health issues and reclaim pride in their culture.