Front-line housing and social services agencies in Calgary report that the city’s safe and affordable housing crisis was critical well before June 2013’s floods. The city’s already low rental vacancy rate reached 0% in the Fall. The situation disproportionately affects Aboriginal persons, who compose a third of the known homeless population (3% of Albertans are Aboriginal). Research indicates that this over-representation is due predominantly to structural determinants; barriers to housing security are especially evident among youth, who are even more over-represented in the child welfare system (64% of Alberta foster children are Aboriginal) and in other indicators that negatively impact health and resilience (i.e. child poverty, teen pregnancy, suicide, addiction). While the situation for Aboriginal youth has been urgent for years, an influx of post-flood rebuilding funds means that policy-makers and service providers in southern Alberta face tough questions about how best to overcome systemic factors threatening the wellbeing of Canada’s fastest growing sector of youth. Nation-wide, few studies identify who exactly are those within the broad category of Aboriginal youth at highest risk of homelessness, nor the extent to which vulnerability is intergenerational. Translating critical knowledge into meaningful action, this project asks: What are pathways into and out of homelessness among Aboriginal youth in diverse conditions of housing insecurity? Indigenous methodologies inform a research approach that engages homeless youth who participate in documentary filmmaking workshops as co-researchers encouraged to overcome barriers through guidance from their communities. Four short films on housing insecurity experienced by Aboriginal youth will be written, interviewed, shot, and edited in small groups, as the voices of many more will appear in films and articles. Deliverables meet stated needs of service providers for material to educate members of the wider society.
Uncovering Colonial Legacies: Voices of Indigenous Youth in Child Welfare (dis)Placements