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  A monthly electronic bulletin highlighting what people are
  doing to put housing back on the public agenda in Ontario,
  across Canada and around the world.

In this issue

   Number 148 • February 2012


Historic Meeting Lays Out Commitment to First Nations People


Ahead of a recent Crown-First Nations summit in Ottawa, which has been billed as “historic,” the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn Atleo told the media that an “ambitious approach” is needed to tackle the many issues facing Canada’s aboriginal people, including the overwhelming need for affordable housing.

The future of his people, most especially young people, and the future of Canada depends on a “bold agenda” in areas such as education where graduation rates still languish below 50 percent, Atleo said. He also called for a change in the nature of relationships between First Nations and the government to move from the current “Ottawa-centric decision making to a real full partnership.”

The theme of the gathering in Ottawa was Strengthening Our Relationship – Unlocking Our Potential. At the Summit, the AFN met with Gov. Gen. David Johnston, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Cabinet ministers and federal officials. A group of 33 chiefs, including many regional representatives, also had an opportunity to meet with Harper to talk about the diverse needs between regions.

Following the summit, a three page joint statement was released which lays out commitments in five areas:

•    Canada and First Nations will work on a renewed relationship
•    Removing barriers to First Nations governance
•    Advancing claims resolutions and treaty implementation
•    Education reform, and
•    Capitalizing on economic development.
In addition, the Conservative government and First Nations chiefs agreed to set up a working group to review the structure of government financing and to set up a task force on economic development. They also pledged to deliver a progress report in one year.

“We cannot undo the mistakes of the past, but we can learn from them and affirm that they will not be repeated,” the statement said. “In this year, the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 and with next year being the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation of 1763, it serves as an appropriate time to reinvigorate the Crown-First Nation relationships.”

Community Spotlight

Students Raise Awareness of Youth Homelessness

On February 10th, 500 students from 20 Greater Toronto Area schools will come together for the second annual Tokens4Change, a one day event to raise awareness of youth homelessness, raise public transit tokens for homeless youth, and donations for
Youth Without Shelter.

The students who are volunteering their time will take over 30 Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) stations and underground walkway locations from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Commuters can also expect to see student led performances about youth homelessness.

Youth Without Shelter in Toronto along with its sister agency in Edmonton, Youth Emergency Shelter Society, provides a variety of services for homeless and at risk youth including residential support, employment assistance and basic skill development. YWS’s Stay in School Program removes the barriers a homeless youth faces in completing their education by providing a safe and stable environment to live in and support and guidance from qualified staff.

Workers also focus on placing young people in permanent, affordable housing. The housing program addresses the obstacles faced by homeless youth that interfere with the achievement of independent and stable living.

Organizers say the event has more than doubled this year given the support of TTC and sponsors like Barrick, Boston Pizza, SNC Lavalin, and Pattison Outdoor Advertising. There will be a big party at Yonge-Dundas Square where Boston Pizza will be handing out fresh pizza and local radio station KiSS 92.5 will provide a DJ all day.

Later in the afternoon, there will be a 30 minute show lead by Project: Humanity of all the student performances created for the day. Project: Humanity raises awareness through the arts and leads workshops with Toronto high schools and professional artists to create performances that shed light on youth homelessness.

News Briefs

15th Annual Comedy Cabaret to Support Long-term Solutions to Homelessness

It’s time to save the date for Raising the Roof’s 15th Annual Comedy Cabaret. Mark down April 1st in your calendars! For more information, please contact Arundel Gibson at arundel@raisingtheroof.org

Let’s Put a Cap on Youth Homelessness!

The Raising the Roof Toque Campaign, generously supported by national partners Intact Financial Corporation and Canadian Traffic Network, is now available in communities across Canada to help “put a cap” on youth homelessness.

Improving Housing Options for Abused Women

The Government of Canada, through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), and Women’s Community House (WCH) celebrated the completion of renovations at Women’s Community House Second Stage Housing, which provides housing for women and children who are victims of family violence in London, Ontario.

Listening to the Voices of Multicultural Youth

The Wellesley Institute has issued a new report, The Voices of Multicultural Youth: Impact on Health and Wellbeing. One third of the 242,000 newcomers arriving each year to Canada are youth and these young people face very different challenges than those of their parents, the report says. The study was carried out in St. James Town in Toronto, using “photovoice” to explore how the youth’s health and well-being are affected by this neighbourhood.

New Documentary Provides Intimate Look at Homeless Youth

US-based film company Differential Films has released a new documentary, Invisible Young, that tells the story of four young adults who were all homeless as teenagers in Seattle, Washington. The film is both heartbreaking and uplifting and provides a look into an often misunderstood segment of society. “The four main characters in the film tell personal stories that will shock and inspire,” said producer Steve Keller. “I started doing a film about homelessness, but I really ended up doing a film about the resilience of the human spirit.”

State of Housing in NWT Grim

Carleton University’s Frances Abele and Nick Falvo were in Yellowknife recently where they released new research on Canada’s North. Each of them has a chapter in the 2011-2012 edition of How Ottawa Spends, published by McGill-Queen’s University Press. Their research found that the state of housing in the NWT (especially in small communities) is much worse than in the rest of Canada. And matters will worsen unless something changes, the report says.

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