Herstories of Urban Homelessness: A Sociocultural Examination of Inuit Women Living in Situations of Homelessness in Montreal

Thursday, 14 July 2016
Location: H├Ârsaal 33 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Lydia Nicole FANELLI, Concordia University, Canada
Increasingly, Inuit individuals are leaving their northern communities and relocating to southern urban centres to escape overcrowded housing, high cost of living, limited medical and social services and lack of employment opportunities. As a result of this migration, Montreal currently holds the second largest urban concentration of Inuit peoples in Canada. While the city is said to host a wealth of social resources, Inuit in Montreal are often confronted with difficulties related to language barriers, low levels of education, intergenerational trauma, racism, discrimination and cultural disparities.

That said, the challenges faced by Inuit women are even more numerous than those of their male counterparts, pointing to high rates of domestic abuse, an increased level of sexual abuse and further, the added responsibility of caring for their children. These difficulties and the scarcity of available resources specific to Inuit women in Montreal hinders socioeconomic success among this population. As such, Inuit women often find themselves without permanent housing in Montreal.

To date, the topic of Inuit homelessness in urban settings has been ignored, despite being inextricably linked to the lack of critical resources in the rural north. Indeed, academic research on street-involved Inuit women has yet to be written. My intention is to address the neglected gendered dimension of homelessness and Inuit identity in Montreal. The crux of this research aims to uncover the lived-experiences of self-identified Inuit women in situations of homelessness in Montreal. First, I explore the reasons that motivated them to make the journey from their northern communities to Montreal. Additionally I attempt to uncover whether they perceive their identity as being shaped by their current circumstances. Further, I ask what needs, issues and concerns they identify as being directly related to being an Inuk woman living on the streets of Montreal.