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Reframing the way we look at the definition of homelessness

Homelessness is typically defined to include categories of unsheltered, emergency sheltered, provisionally sheltered, and at risk of homelessness.

In the Indigenous culture, homelessness is more than a lack of habitation structure; it is a lack of healthy social relationships or a lack of connection to All My Relations, the Indigenous worldview where everything is interrelated.

The 12 dimensions of Indigenous homelessness are summarized as follows:

  1. Historic displacement

  2. Contemporary geographic separation

  3. Spiritual disconnection

  4. Mental disruption and imbalance

  5. Cultural disintegration and loss

  6. Overcrowding

  7. Relocation and mobility

  8. Going home

  9. Nowhere to go

  10. Escaping or evading harm

  11. Emergency crisis

  12. Climatic refugee

Homelessness is more fully described and understood through a composite lens of Indigenous worldviews. These include individuals, families and communities isolated from their relationships to land, water, place, family, kin, each other, animals, cultures, languages and identities. Importantly, Indigenous people experiencing these kinds of homelessness cannot culturally, spiritually, emotionally or physically reconnect with their Indigeneity or lost relationships (Aboriginal Standing Committee on Housing and Homelessness, 2012).

The full definition of Indigenous Homelessness in Canada can be downloaded here:


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